Timeline of Ray Elliott's Life

portrait of Ray Elliott

  • World War I
    Ray Elliott's father is a soldier with the 92nd Division during World War I.
  • Ray's father, William S. Elliott, founds the Isaac Wilson Taylor Post, the first black Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ray's father becomes its first president. His mother becomes the first president of the Isaac Wilson Taylor Post's Ladies Auxiliary.
  • February 18, 1924
    Ray Elliott is born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ray's father works for the United States Postal Service; his mother is a registered nurse.
  • c. 1932
    Ray's mother starts a nursing home for people who can not afford to go to white nursing homes.
  • 1942
    Ray Elliott is attending Northeastern University. He is duped into volunteering to be in the Army. Ray reports to Fort Devens in Massachusetts and later Keesler Airfield in Biloxi, Mississippi, where he begins pre-cadet training to be a pilot. Ray is "washed out" during screening, an event he attributes to discrimination against blacks as pilots.
  • Ray remains in the service for over three and a half years, creating survey maps during WWII in preparation for the building of landing strips in the Pacific Islands.
  • 1947-51
    After the war, Ray takes advantage of the GI bill. He attends McGill University after being denied admittance to Harvard University due to a 1% quota of blacks. He majors in chemistry.
  • 1950s
    Ray joins the NAACP. He trains Civil Rights Movement workers. Ray teaches adult education for about two years at Robert Gould Shaw Community Center (named for a white officer who led the black 54th Regiment in the Civil War).
  • 1952-1960
    Ray works for a tracer laboratory while residing in Billerica, Massachusetts. Ray is in charge of a small lab that receives air and vegetation samples from around the world to measure and compare radiation background caused by fallout from nuclear bomb testing. He joins the Merrimack Valley Branch of the NAACP in 1960. He volunteers as a youth advisor, and he organizes boycotts.
  • 1960-64
    Ray works for AVCO Corp. designing chemical resin honeycombs for heat shields on Apollo spacecraft.
  • 1963
    Ray attends the Baha'i World Congress in England. He publicly confronts Malcolm X for his teachings about white people during a visit to a Nation of Islam Mosque in Boston (near the border of Roxbury and Dorchester on Blue Hill Avenue).
  • 1965
    Ray moves to Nashua, New Hampshire.
  • 1964-1973
    Ray works for Wyeth Pharmaceutical as chemist. He informs doctors, nurses, and hospitals about how to administer Wyeth Pharmaceutical drugs and about their potential side effects. He receives accelerated training in basic medicine. He then does the same for Endo Laboratories. He begins to lose his sight which becomes a problem for driving to jobs. He retires in 1973.
  • 1975
    Ray moves to Medford, Massachusetts.
  • 2004
    Ray joins the Veterans Education Project (VEP) in Western Massachusetts.
  • Present
    Ray Elliott lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. He continues to be active in the VEP and has served as the president of the local NAACP branch since about 2005.


top of page