Meet Author Ray Anthony Shepard

Ray Anthony Shepard’s biographies provide young readers with an engaging and corrective understanding of race in American lives. Ray is a retired history teacher and textbook editor and now writes books that didn’t exist when he was in the classroom and books he couldn’t publish as an editor.

Ray Anthony Shepard, Author

Ray Anthony Shepard is available for appearances & events.

Contact him to learn more about speaking engagements.


Biographer’s International Organization: Episode #8

In this week’s episode, we interview Ray Anthony Shepard, author of Now or Never!: 54th Massachusetts Infantry’s Fight to End Slavery. This interview was recorded during BIO’s May 2018 annual conference in New York City. Listen now…

Historically Thinking: Episode #120

On Saturday, July 18, 1863, the 54thMassachusetts Regiment attacked Fort Wagner, a Confederate fortification defending Charleston Harbor. The assault began at about 7:45 PM. Within two hours, of the 624 men who made the attack, 54 were killed, 149 were wounded, 76 taken prisoner—half the regiment killed, wounded or captured.

But Fort Wagner was not the beginning of the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry nor its end. The complete story of both the regiment and the men who formed it is told by Ray Anthony Shepard in his book Now or Never: 54th Massachusetts Infantry’s War to End Slavery, written for middle-readers, but, as one reviewer wrote, “an enlightening read for adults as well.” Ray Shepard has been both a teacher and an editor; this is his first book of creative non-fiction. Listen now…


Biographers International Organization: Black Lives / Young Readers

Being a biographer for young readers who writes about Black lives in America is a conundrum that goes beyond a writer’s normal anxieties. Let me count the ways. Read more…

Highlights Foundation: You’re Never Too Old to Write

A 70-year-old walks into a barn. No, it’s not the beginning of a joke. There’s no rabbi or preacher to deliver a punchline that knocks you to the floor in a fit of guffaws. There is, however, a moral: You’re never too old to write.

After 40 years of the classroom and educational publishing, I wanted an encore career of writing biographies for young readers. Three Highlights Foundation workshops later, two of my books are winding their way into bookstores and libraries. There’s a moral to this story as well: I’m not an overnight success, 70-some odd years in the making. Instead, I’ve been blessed by stubbornness, good luck, and the kindness of strangers. Read more…


Boston Athenæum: Interview by Dani Crickman

Ray Anthony Shepard’s first book, Now or Never! 54th Massachusetts Infantry’s War to End Slavery, was published in October 2017. Shepard describes the book as “the story of two black Civil War soldiers whose battlefield dispatches documented the regiment’s battle against Northern white racial arrogance as they fought the Confederacy’s attempt to establish an independent slave empire. George E. Stephens and James Henry Gooding answered Frederick Douglass’s call: ‘through Massachusetts we can get our hands on treason and slavery.’ Read more…

The History Makers

Educational publisher Ray A. Shepard was born on June 26, 1940 in Sedalia, Missouri to Cornelius “Boots” Shepard and Loretha Mae Jackson Shepard. He graduated from Lincoln High School in Lincoln, Nebraska and served in the United States Army during “The Cold War,” based in Germany at the time of the construction of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crises. After he completed his tour of duty, Shepard earned his B.S. degree from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1967. He received a Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation to attend Harvard University and earned his M.A. degree in teaching from Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1971. Read more…

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