African American Studies


Ray Henry is a native Bronxite who has worked for the Housing and Preservation Department. During his life, he has served as an active leader within the Bronx African-American community and was also a witness to the Morrisania burnouts. His life, therefore, tells the story of a struggle that many Bronx residents faced throughout the 1960s.

Henry was born in 1952 and lived in several Bronx locations as a child. During his youth, he introduced the concept of the Battle of the Bands to the Bronx community. Additionally, at the age of 17, he served on the successful campaign to elect Reverend Foster to the United States Congress from the 16th Congressional District in the Bronx. Henry also lived through the Morrisania burnouts, which he says occurred in order for landlords to make room for other people who had no place to stay. Furthermore, Henry was also influential in the founding of Cherry Park, which was named after his mother.

Henry has spent much of his working life in jobs affiliated with housing in the Bronx. He was in charge of the Clay Avenue Historic District and also served as an employee of the Department for Housing Preservation and Development. He got his start working in the housing industry as a building supervisor. Additionally, his experience working in housing has made him more aware of the fact that people who own their own houses are more inclined to take pride in their community.