Ray escaped the urban slums of Richmond, VA by joining the United States Army at the age of 17. As an infantryman and paratrooper, he served around the world and was awarded The Bronze Star and Combat Infantryman’s Badge, among many other decorations for his service. After 20 years, he retired and went back to school, earning his BS in Liberal Arts, MA in Public History, and EdS/EdD in Education Leadership, researching the relationship between parental behavior and African American academic success for his dissertation. During his time as an adjunct professor at Appalachian State University, his most popular courses were “The Souls of Black Folks: An Examination of African American Social Culture” and “Storytelling: Life in the Narrative,” which explored historic and contemporary uses of storytelling and oral history in America.
Ray’s stories have appeared in Readers Digest’s Best Stories in America (2016) and American Hero’s (2017) editions. He was selected as the 2017 Serenbe France Focus Storytelling Fellow (Atlanta, GA) and his stories have been featured on NPR radio shows such as The Moth Radio Hour, Snap Judgment, and Backstory as well as the Risk podcast, among many others. As a competitive storyteller, Ray is a ten-time Moth Story Slam Champion, and winner of the 2016 National Storytelling Festival Story Slam. Sharing his stories across the US and Canada, Ray has made several appearances on Moth Mainstage, The National Storytelling Festival Exchange Place (2019) , and was part of the 2018 tour of Snap Judgment Live!
In 2018, Ray has been named as the best known story teller in the south by Bitter Southerner magazine. Glynn Washington, host and producer of Snap Judgement, calls him “a storyteller’s storyteller.” He is distinguished for his exceptional accomplishments as a performer and spoken word performer and his training and experience as an educator and motivator.
Ray is currently the producer and host of What’s Ray Saying, a podcast that utilizes history , storytelling and commentary to provide a unique perspective on the African American cultural experience.