In Memoriam: Hellen O’Neal McCray

Hellen O’Neal McCray


Hellen O’Neal McCray, Freedom Rider, was born on March 4, 1941 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. A graduate of Jackson State University and Wright State University, she was a Freedom Rider in 1961, taught in SNCC’s Freedom School in McComb, MS, helped staff the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee in Shreveport, LA, worked for the Southern Regional Council and National Sharecroppers Fund. She and her husband Willie McCray moved to Yellow Springs, OH in 1966. Hellen was a Professor at Wilberforce University and retired from Springfield City Schools after 29 years. Hellen died on February, 24, 2010 in Columbus, OH.

Joan Browning wrote of Hellen:

“Few Americans chose to be Freedom Riders. The best list names 436. Nineteen year old Jackson State College sophomore Hellen O’Neal [McCray] was arrested and tried and jailed as a Freedom Rider.”

Hellen O'Neal McCray