Nance, Ethel Ray
- Onita Estes-Hicks
secretary and administrative assistant, civil rights worker, researcher, and writer, was born Ethel Ray in Duluth, Minnesota, the youngest of four children of a racially mixed couple, William Henry Ray, a black man from North Carolina, and Inga Nordquist, a Swedish immigrant. Inga and William met and married in Minneapolis in the 1880s, settling in segregated Duluth in 1889 in an immigrant neighborhood In a city with less than two hundred African American residents the Rays faced hostility from their white neighbors prompting resistance from the defiant and proud William Henry Ray who kept his hunting rifle loaded for self defense William fortified Ethel and her siblings against racism with stark tales of racial oppression and heroic resistance he had witnessed in Raleigh where his parents and their neighbors took up guns to protect northern teachers who had come South to educate blacks ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.