EDITORIAL: Rhudean Raye Day honors a strong, smart, bold woman

Girls Inc. said a big “thank you” to Rhudean Raye during its annual benefit event last week. The 96-year-old icon received the Strong, Smart and Bold award from the organization, the first Black recipient to do so. This was not the first time this community leader has broken barriers. Her life story provides one example after another of ground-breaking involvement aimed at making the world around her a better place.

Girls Inc., headquartered on Lincoln Street, offers programs to help girls develop confidence, take risks and speak out. The annual benefit event helps raise money for programs. This year, Girls Inc. served more 500 girls with its after-school program and summer camp.

Raye was “nominated for her decades of serving youth and leading local civic organizations” and for initiating the annual Martin Luther King Jr. / Albert Owens Scholarship Breakfast, according to Record-Journal reporter Lau Guzmán who covered the event.

At the event, Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati declared Friday, June 2, 2023, as Rhudean Raye Day in honor of her 97th birthday.

Scarpati said, “I can’t thank you enough for what you've done for Meriden. On behalf of all 60,000 of our residents, I thank you for reminding people of what is right, what is just and what we must continue to fight for every single day.”

Other praise and congratulations came in from the Meriden City Council, the Connecticut General Assembly and the office of U.S. Congresswoman Jahana Hayes.

Guzmán writes that Raye “grew up in a segregated Bennettsville, South Carolina, and studied to become a nurse and a teacher.” She continued with those careers after she moved to Meriden, becoming one of the first Black teachers in the city, teaching first and second grade at Nathan Hale for 32 years. She is also an active member of the Kiwanis club and her church.

Raye offered these inspiring words. “For the sake of our community, I implore you to get involved. Find a need and try to fill it. Stand with me and help in areas that are of your interest. You will find that life is more fulfilling and then you will have a feeling of a job well done. Remember, you too can be a part of the dream for a better tomorrow.”

Big, bold and smart are the perfect words to describe Raye’s example of leadership in action. On June 2, Rhudean Raye Day, raise a glass, tip a hat, or better yet take action in support of Raye's dream. 


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