Dr. Rayford Logan (1897-1982), the eminent historian, editor, and civil rights activist, was born in Washington, the son of Arthur Logan and Martha Whittingham Logan, both domestic workers. He grew up in Foggy Bottom at 818 22nd Street, NW, and attended Stevens School and M Street High School, where he was a member of the cadet corps. Logan graduated from Williams College in 1917 and then served in World War I with the all-black 93rd Division. For five years after the war, he lived in France and became active in the Pan-African Congress movement, working closely with W.E.B. Du Bois. The movement called for black equality, an end to colonial abuses in Africa, and full civil rights for African Americans. It is considered an important precursor to the U.S. civil rights movement.

Between 1925 and 1938 Logan taught at Virginia Union University and Atlanta University, and also served as Carter Woodson's assistant at the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. He also earned a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1932. In 1938 Logan joined the history faculty of Howard University, where he taught until 1965.

As an activist, Logan helped organize voter registration drives and citizenship schools in the 1920s and 1930s. He rallied African Americans to demand their inclusion in the U.S. military, and drafted President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order prohibiting the exclusion of blacks from the military in World War II.

Like W.E.B. DuBois and Carter G. Woodson, colleagues and fellow Harvard-trained historians, Logan wrote for both scholars and the general public. Among other works, he wrote The Betrayal of the Negro (1954 and 1965). His groundbreaking Dictionary of American Negro Biography is the field's standard reference, which continues to be revised and updated.

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