Our Namesake: George Jackson
Our namesake, George Jackson, was transformed by his all-boys’ education at the Monsignor Kelly School, where he met GJA founder Brother Brian Carty. Born and raised in Harlem, George graduated from Harvard University and went on to become CEO of Motown Records. George shared a vision of transformative education for other boys like him.
George had long lamented the particular plight of young boys in the city: too many lost interest in school as early as grade 3. Neighborhood pressures, poor elementary education, and peer culture had obviously taken their toll. When George died of an unexpected stroke at the age of 41 in 2000, Brother Brian and his friends mourned his loss.
Before his death, George shared his interest in supporting a school which would specifically help bright boys like him. Under Brother Brian’s leadership, George’s passion came to life: a school took shape as a community effort, a building was rented, and 250 students applied to attend in the first year.
George Jackson Academy opened in September 2003 in its current home on 104 St. Mark’s Place in the East Village. It grew quickly from 52 boys in grades 4 and 5, to its full enrollment of 134 in grades 4-8 thirteen years later. Its graduates, like George, are proud alumni of the city and nation’s top high schools, colleges, and universities.
In March 2019, staring with the academic year, 2020-2021, GJA’s Education Committee and Board of Trustees concluded that GJA will only serve students in grades 6-8. This will provide for a more typical and natural transition stage for youngsters, helping us to better focus on our resources and further enhance our offerings to middle schoolers.
Although George never had a chance to see the school his life inspired, his memory lives on through our boys and their successes.