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McDonald, Dora  

Rachel Anspach

was born in Greeleyville, South Carolina, on her family’s farm. Ancestry.com lists a Dora Edith McDonald, born on that date to Ezekiel McDonald and Lucy Rollerson. The 1930 federal census states that she had a nine-year-old brother, Thomas, and her father was a farmer. As a young child her parents were forced to sell the land due to the widespread poverty of the Great Depression. Despite her family’s economic hardship, McDonald managed to attend college at South Carolina State College, an HBCU in Orangeburg. During her junior year, McDonald went to see Benjamin Mays—a civil rights leader and president of Morehouse College—speak on Easter Sunday. She introduced herself afterward, and she clearly made an impression, as he hired her to work as his personal secretary, following her college graduation in 1947.

While working for Mays, McDonald first met Martin Luther King Jr., along with his father, Martin Luther ...

Article

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 ...