Raymond E. Smith

The biological father I never met.

My life, my stories…

 Collect, Research, and Educate. At an early age, I knew.  I knew, as I sat at  Grandmother Myra’s knee and listened to stories about our family, a black family.

I knew the words she spoke were important. She spoke in weary aged tones about her grandmother’s enslavement in Virginia.

The more I listened, the more I knew. I knew my destiny was to Collect, Research and Educate on the racial discourse in America.

I was born and raised in Merrifield, Virginia. A small Black community minutes away from the Nation’s Capital. I am a Bi-Racial, 7th Generation, Northern Virginian. I never knew my White, biological Father because of the 1950s, Jim Crow laws in the Commonwealth. Those laws deprived me of hearing my father’s voice or seeing him smile. He is lost to me.  Segregation and racism made sure of that.

I believe, because of this loss, at an early age, I realized many historical narratives were abandoned and forgotten; lying idle in the minds of primary and secondary sourced memories.

So, I became their storyteller; using the tools of Education, Interpretation, Public Lectures, Historical Sessions and Oral History; known as Ethnography.

To enhance my historical abilities I graduated with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and I hold a Master of Arts Degree in History from George Mason University. I am a woman of mixed race; Black and White and I can speak to both sides of the racial paradigm without anger or apologies.

I feel strongly my work reflects the life legacy of those who came before me. Persons, without fanfare who lifted the next generation to a level of freedom and citizenship.

I have, for many years been commissioned by historical sites, museums and private organizations to engage in conversations about the past.

The purpose of my work is to inform people of the aspects of history with which they are unfamiliar.

I am a voice for forgotten souls who came before me. I have a strong desire to speak to their trials and tribulations; hopes and dreams. I feel a moral obligation to give them agency, and importance.

I speak for my Grandmother, along with countless others.

This is why I do what I do.

MARION COHEN

Let us not forget where we came from, so we can make greater history as we move forward”

In the center is my Grandmother Myra Collins Lee, the woman who started my journey in History.

Marion Cohen Childhood

My childhood photo in Merrifield, Virginia. 1965

Picture taken in the Pines, Virginia (Near Merrifield).

Cousin, Ernestine is on Grandma Myra’s farm.

My Mom, Eulala and her sister Leola.

(Eulala in the white coat on the right)

BACKGROUND

  •  University of Virginia, BA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Humanities | Graduated with “Highest Distinction”
  • Member of the UVA Raven Society, Honor Society | Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society
  • George Mason University,  Master of Arts | United States History with a concentration of African American Studies
  • Historical Preservation Certification, Northern Virginia | Community Loudoun Campus

HISTORY 100%
PUBLIC SPEAKING 97%
EDUCATOR 93%
ETHNOGRAPHY 99%
RESEARCH 98%
PROJECT MANAGEMENT 96%

PRESS KIT

Digital Bio | Headshots

DOWNLOADABLE FILES

Download Kit