Rayford Logan

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Rayford Whittingham Logan (January 7, 1897 – November 4, 1982) was an African-American historian and Pan-African activist. He was best known for his study of post-Reconstruction America, a period he termed "the nadir of American race relations". In the late 1940s he was the chief advisor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) on international affairs. He was professor emeritus of history at Howard University.[1]


Rayford Logan was born and raised in Washington, DC. He won a scholarship to Williams College, graduating in 1917.[2] During the First World War he joined the U.S. Army, and served as a first lieutenant in the all-black 93rd infantry Division, which undertook operations with French troops.[1] Once the war ended, Logan remained in France, absorbing both the culture and the language.[2] He helped to co-ordinate the 2nd Pan-African Congress in Paris in 1921. He returned to the US in the early 1920s and began teaching at Virginia Union University in Richmond.[2]

During America's occupation of Haiti he took a fact finding mission to Haiti to investigate educational efforts and published his findings in The Journal of Negro History[3] in October 1930. The main findings indicated there was little improvement in education due to the choice of southern white Marines as country administrators – men who had been raised with Jim Crow Laws in the American south and had brought their prejudice with them to their new assignment in Haiti. The main improvement effort revolved around creating agricultural schools which were highly expensive and staffed by non-French speakers so classes had to be translated. And the funding given these schools dwarfed the amount given to the majority of academic schools.

In 1930 he started studies at Harvard University, earning an MA in 1932 and a Ph.D. in 1936. Logan was a long-standing professor at Howard University, where he worked from 1938 to 1965.[2]

In 1932, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Logan to his Black Cabinet. Logan drafted Roosevelt's executive order prohibiting the exclusion of blacks from the military in World War II.[4]

In 1950–51, Logan became Director of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

Logan was the 15th General President of Alpha Phi Alpha, the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans.

In 1980, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.[5]

Logan died of a heart ailment at Howard University Hospital, aged 85.[1]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • The Betrayal of the Negro (1954 and 1965)
  • Dictionary of American Negro Biography
  • The Negro in the United States
  • The Negro in American Life and Thought: The Nadir, 1877–1901 (1954)


  1. ^ a b c Peter B. Flint, "Dr. Rayford logan, Professor Who Wrote Books on Blacks", The New York Times, November 6, 1982.
  2. ^ a b c d Malik Simba, "Logan, Rayford W. (1897-1982)", BlackPast.org
  3. ^ Logan, Rayford W. (Oct 1930). "Education in Haiti". The Journal of Negro History (Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc.) 15 (4): 401-460. 
  4. ^ "Rayford Logan Residence". Cultural Tourism DC. Retrieved April 17, 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ NAACP Spingarn Medal

Further reading[edit]

  • Janken, Kenneth Robert (April 1997). Rayford W. Logan and the Dilemma of the African-American Intellectual. University of Massachusetts Press. p. 336. ISBN 1-55849-069-8. 
  • Mason, Herman (1999). "Rayford Whittingham Logan". The Talented Tenth: The Founders and Presidents of Alpha (2nd ed.). Winter Park, FL: Four-G. ISBN 1-885066-63-5. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Charles H. Wesley
General President of Alpha Phi Alpha
Succeeded by
Belford Lawson, Jr.