Rapid Ray by John Cooper, paperback, 160 pages, Tundra Books (2002), ISBN: 0887766129
Many say that Ray Lewis was the fastest man of his generation. After an outstanding career as a high-school track and field star, he went on to become the first Canadian-born black man to join a Canadian olympic track and field team, winning medals at the 1932 Olympic Games and the 1934 British Empire Games. Remarkable achievement for any man, but all more remarkable because Lewis had to face poverty and prejudice. The grandson of slaves, he worked as a porter on the railway and trained by running along the railroad tracks. "Rapid Ray" is more than just a sport biography. It is the story of generations of people growing up with prejudice, and finding ways to work around it, and to succeed in spite of it. "Rapid Ray" is a social history as well as a history of running. Author John Cooper recounts events in Ray's life that include awful memories of the Ku Klux Klan; rejections by his friends' parents because of the color of his skin, and acceptance by a nation as a track and field hero. "Rapid Ray" is as much the story of one man's battle for equality as it is the story of Olympic-level running. Throughout his long life – he is now in his nineties – Ray Lewis has been an inspiration to athletes and to those who recognize a true hero. John Cooper tells his story with compassion and honesty. The author is a corporate communications specialist for the Government of Ontario. He also teaches corporate communications at Centennial College in Toronto, and writes books. John Cooper has been interested in African-Canadian history since he was 12 years old when he read "Black Like Me". He is a member of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, and is editor of their newsletter. He first wrote about "Rapid" Ray Lewis in his adult book, "Shadow Running". He also co-wrote and edited "My name's not George". John Cooper lives in Whitby, Ontario (Canada) with his wife and three children.