Educator, Activist, and Tuskegee Alumni Carl Ray Delivers Powerful Message at Tuskegee University Freshman Orientation

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Tuskegee alumni Carl Ray told freshman students to check their attitudes at the classroom door; develop strong networking and mentor relationships, and write a check to support their school as soon as they are able. Ray challenged the audience to change the slave mentality that has crippled African Americans into thinking that someone else should take care of our people

If I had read that book when I was in college I would have been a millionaire by age thirty-five, through networking.

Educator, activist, and former stand-up comic Carl Ray delivered a powerful and entertaining message to the 2008 Tuskegee University freshman class and their parents for Freshman Orientation. Ray, a 1967 Tuskegee graduate, shared his life story emphasizing how students and faculty supported him upon his arrival at Tuskegee Institute. He entered school two weeks after witnessing the racially motivated murder of his father, thus propelling him into the reality of life for African Americans prior to the Civil Rights Movement.

Ray gave the students three assignments:
(1) To pack up their attitudes that they were better then their classmates, and ship them back home. He challenged them to reach out to classmates that may not be performing well in class, and invite them to study groups. Ray said, "You are not here just to receive your degree, but it is also your responsibility to make sure your classmates also graduate."

(2) To develop strong networking skills and become active in campus clubs and organizations. He advised students to treat each other as friends or family members. The most successful people in any profession are great networkers. He encouraged the students to purchase the book, "Success Runs in Our Race" by George Frasier. Ray commented, "If I had read that book when I was in college I would have been a millionaire by age thirty-five, through networking."

(3) To "write the check." Ray said the most important lessons not taught to African Americans were on Giving, and Why the Group is More Important than the Individual. Until we begin to give and spend a larger percentage of what we earn to educate our youth, support our community and black-owned businesses, we will never drastically change our social and economic status." He reminded students that no black college would be in fiscal difficulty if they were supported financially by their alumni and the black community. With alumni dollars, many of them in the audience would have been given monies to offset some or all of their college expenses. He challenged the audience to change the slave mentality that has crippled African Americans into thinking that someone else should take care of our people. Ray encouraged the audience to become "check writers" as soon as they enter the working world; suggesting they write the first check to Tuskegee.

Of course, Ray could not end the evening without inserting a comedy routine. He also gave pocket money to students he had recruited to attend Tuskegee, and when he returned home, sent money to other students as well.

Dr. Gregory Murphy, Dean of the Tuskegee Electrical Engineering Department commented, "Mr. Ray visits the campus every couple of months and has a great relationship with students and staff. I first met him three years ago when he spoke during the dedication ceremonies for the campus Wireless Internet WiFi that was funded by the Intel Foundation at Mr. Ray's request." Dr. Murphy continued, "Mr. Ray was instrumental in fostering our relationship with Intel. The company also gave laptop computers to 11 Tuskegee University students. This year, Mr. Ray has purchased an additional eight computers for the Electrical Engineering Department, by soliciting donations from alumni and friends."

Mrs. Minnie Austin, Student Activities Director, stated "Ray's presentation was great. He got the audience involved and gave them inspirational words that will help them throughout their lives. He left a lasting impression on them and the administration as well."

Since 1987 (21 years), Ray has sponsored tours to HBCU's, including Tuskegee University. The tours targeted high school students from California. A large percentage of them have enrolled in Tuskegee University, the pride of the swift growing South.

In 1967, Carl Ray graduated from Tuskegee Institute with a BS Degree in Electrical Engineering. After graduation, he traveled to California to begin a career in the Aerospace Industry. Early in his career, he was sidetracked by a yearning to perform stand-up comedy.

Ray started a Youth Opportunity Program in East Palo Alto, Calif. in 1968; began recruiting youth to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU); then undertook sponsoring tours to the colleges in 1987. Ray continues to host Spring and Fall tours to Historically Black Colleges and Universities. To date, he has chaperoned more than 5,000 high school students on HBCU tours.

In 1988, Ray, together with his wife Brenda, founded Courtland Esteem School, a private school in San Jose, California where they educated young African American children in grades one through six.

In 1999 Ray began telling the compelling story of witnessing his father's racially motivated murder in the form of an acclaimed one-man, single-act play "A Killing in Choctaw." Ray has relived the painful day more than 300 times performing live in theaters, museums, community centers, churches and colleges throughout the U.S. The play, its subsequent film documentary, and the PBS station KLCS-TV/DT educational program based on the play have been recipients of numerous awards and recognitions.

To learn more about Ray's fascinating biography, please visit

:: Mr. Ray is available for telephone and in-person interviews
:: Mr. Ray is accepting lecture and performance invitations
:: Press kits will be mailed to reporters upon request
:: Contact: Toni Beckham | 408-499-3664 |


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