Donald Joshua Ray Legacy
OUR “SUN’S” LIFE AND LEGACY:
DONALD JOSHUA RAY
by TyWanna AriAnkha Patrick
In case you only knew one aspect of Josh, here's a little
glimpse of how complex this amazing young man really was.
It all began Sunday, April 25, 1993 when Donald Joshua
Ray was born. We called him little Donnie (that was his
biological father's first name), and even then he was always
a very happy baby, smiling & laughing all the time.
Donnie started talking and walking before the age of one. I
should have known then that he had a lot to say and a
whole lot of places to go. One year and five days later his
little sister, Tylia was born and she became his little partner
in crime. She would always be the one getting them both
into trouble. By the time Tylia and Donnie were two and
three years old, I had been rearing my children alone for
over a year. I worked a very hectic schedule and I enrolled
them into the Small World Learning Center. This is when
Donnie’s teacher and I noticed his artistic ability and
Donnie enjoyed drawing & reciting poetry from the likes of
Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes. African history and
culture were extremely important to me to assure a strong
foundation for my children so I arranged for Donnie and his
sisters to spend their Saturday afternoons at the Shule ya
Watoto (meaning “School for Children” in the KiSwahili
language) which was founded by our great ancestor Baba
Hannibal Afrik. There they learned all about our greatness
as a people and they were also introduced to Martial Arts by
Baba Nubian Malik.
Donnie spent his early grammar school years at the
Learning Network, a small private school where he and his
sisters experienced a close-knit family/village relationship
with the other students and teachers as well.
Outside of school he and his sisters participated in
dance/tumbling classes at Panda Studios in Oak Park Illinois.
I recall asking Donnie how he was enjoying his classes there
and he replied, "Well the jazz & tap classes are cool but I'm
not so sure about this ballet stuff. Boys in tights
mommy?" He then decided that maybe gymnastics would
be a better fit for him.
The following fall Donnie noticed a new martial arts school,
Universal Touch Center, was opening down the street from
my salon. He begged me to let him take classes because he
thought he was destined to be a ninja after seeing the
original karate kid movie.
After Donnie was enrolled for a short time his instructor,
Kelvin Ka El Ra Caldwell saw great potential in him and
became his Jegna (an elder dedicated to the protection,
defense, nurturance and development of young people), as
well as best friend, big brother and father figure. Under the
guidance of Instructor Caldwell, Donnie's confidence grew
and he became a strong, strategic, fearless Lil’ Warrior.
Upon entering fourth grade, Donnie was transferred into
Roger Clark Elementary, a Chicago Public School. This is
where his love for art grew. His art teacher encouraged me
to take him to additional art classes outside of school. That
summer I enrolled him in Marwen, an art school in
downtown Chicago, where he was able to experiment with
many different art mediums; however, his love for sketching
never waned. This was also around the time that Donnie
made a conscious choice to drop his first name because he
thought Joshua, which means “warrior and savior”, better
described his energy.
During each of his summer breaks from 2003 to
2006, Josh attended the Camp of Dreams for three weeks.
His experiences there enhanced his character as well as
leadership and team building skills. Josh also continued
practicing martial arts and successfully competed in
numerous local and national tournaments throughout the
Midwest; and, he always placed and also won first place in
many tournaments over a seven year period.
Josh’s African studies were also enhanced by his
participation in the Dezert Club, the African Genesis
Institute. He and Tylia participated from 2004 to 2006 and
received a wealth of information relating to ancient African
culture and civilization. They traveled to countless African
history museums and memorials all over the Midwest and
Canada and the program culminated with a ten day study
tour in Kemet (Egypt) in the summer of 2006.
Josh graduated from the Barbara A. Sizemore Academy of
the Betty Shabazz International Charter School in 2007. He
then enrolled in the DuSable Leadership Academy (DLA) of
the Betty Shabazz International Charter School for high
school. Both schools were African-Centered, it was
important to me for him to continue to be exposed to his
African history and culture. Josh played football and sang in
the choir while at DLA. He also worked summer jobs in the
Gallery 37 program and participated in the Major James
Adams Drum Corp. It was also during this time that Josh
met his younger brother Donte, whom he grew to love
because he always wanted a younger brother. In 2011,
Josh graduated from DLA and was also promoted to First
Degree Black Belt.
Upon graduating from high school, Josh enrolled in Miles
College, a historically Black college located near Birmingham
Alabama. The slow pace of the south and missing his family
and friends brought him back to Chicago after his first
semester at Miles College. However, Josh knew the value of
education and upon his return to Chicago he enrolled in
East West University.
Josh also appreciated the need for money and was ready to
start "making some real money" as he would say. He had
some interviews and worked a few places for brief periods
of time before he finally found the job that fit him at Dave &
Buster’s Restaurant. His girlfriend of three years, LaShawn,
who we affectionately refer to as his "Lil Shadow", were
loved and treated like family as they worked there together.
Josh had just reached his one year anniversary at Dave &
Buster’s and purchased his first car, which was his 21st
birthday present to himself. He was growing into an
independent and responsible young man. He adored his
niece, Janari, and his nephews, Demarion and Ayden, and
treated them as though they were his own children. He
faced a few adversities and challenges during his transition
to adulthood and made some mistakes like most young
men do during that period; however, because of his African-
Centered foundation, and continued love and support from
his family and consistent tough love from his village, Josh
ultimately realized that some roads were not meant for him
Though Josh benefited from a support system that allowed
him to survive adolescence, his killer, a young black man the
same age as Josh, appears to have lacked a similar system.
Therefore it is most appropriate that we honor Josh’s life
and legacy by building the Sun of AriKa Institute (S.A.K.I.)
to assure that any child we touch will know that they come
from a Village of greatness and that there is always a better
way than violence.
OM productions has worked
with many young people over
the years. Some have gone on
to accomplish great things.
Unfortunately, a few have
become part of the grim
statistics that track the
casualties of big city violence.
Donald Joshua Ray fit into
both categories. A popular
and charismatic young man
who had earned a black belt in
Tae Kwon Doe, Josh had a
bright future ahead of him.
Watch the video and read his
powerful story below written
by his mother Tywanna.