Henrietta Holmes George
George, Henrietta(2).jpg
Henrietta George was one of the first Black members of the Monroe City School Board and the first Black to serve as president.

One of the most prolific voices for equal opportunity among students and employees in the Monroe City School system.
Mrs. Henrietta George, one of the first Black members on the Monroe City School Board died Monday November 26, 2012 after a lengthy illness. She was 89 years old.

As an educator, writer and civil rights activist, Mrs. George fought to improve conditions for poor children in the educational system in Monroe, regardless of color.

They called her "Ma George"

A colorful and charismatic personality, Mrs. George, affectionately called "Ma George" became an outspoken advocate for the "little people" in the system, whether black or white. She often sparked controversy when she complained about the differences in salaries between workers, sparking investigations and massive shredding of documents to cover up her revelations.

Her outspokenness became life threatening as police and community leaders were often necessary at meetings to insure that she was safe.

She and the late Dr. Henry Carroll formed a coalition of sorts on the board. Carroll insisted that the system hire more certified teachers, Mrs. George focused on improving conditions for the non-certified employees. The two of them often appeared to clash at meetings, creating awkward coalitions with white board members who thought they were enemies. Their public disputes made their private coalitions possible.

The strategy apparently worked because in 1974 one group of whites angry with the other voted to elect her President of the predominately white school board to spite the other. Though Carroll was in the opposing coalition in private, he voted for "Ma George" when the final vote came.

Spokesperson for the "Little people"

She was a powerful personality that could not be ignored. Once in a meeting after a long speech about treating the "little folks" fairly she leaned back in her chair, brought it down quickly and kicked the table shouting, "I'll turn this table over on all you white folks before I'll let you hurt the little people. I can't stand y'all." A shocked board stared at her as she regained her composure and apologized with tears in her eyes saying, "Please forgive me. I got to get to heaven, and that ain't the way."

She spent most of her tenure on the board fighting Martha Henry, a woman she characterized as an enemy of poor people. The two women ended up being the best of friends who called each other regularly as they prayed for the future. Mrs. George never perceived of herself as a politician, only a representative of the "Little People." After her initial run for the school board she rarely campaigned and until then, end had no opponents. In 1985, she was elected President again. However, her refusal to support a local African-American applicant for Superintendent of schools based on his race alone, prompted a backlash against her and Jesse Handy was elected to succeed her in 1986.

Her Official Obituary

Her obituary notes the following: Henrietta Holmes George was born June 5, 1923 in Natchitoches, La. to Benjamin and Louise Holmes. She attended Peagay Memorial Elementary School in Natchitoches and Central Colored High in Shreveport was the place of her High School training. In 1938, she married Charles Dewitt Scott and to this union two boys, Charles Dewitt Scott Jr. and Judge D. Scott and one daughter, Daisy Marie Scott were born.
In 1938, she attended the University of Minnesota and in 1943 graduated from Southern University Summer Normal Teacher's College in Baton Rouge.

She began her teaching career in Campti, Louisiana as a third and fourth grade elementary school teacher. She taught school for a while in Haughton, Louisiana and in Pleasant Hill, Louisiana for a short while.
She became frustrated with school segregation as well as the differences in teacher salaries of Negroes and Whites. Soon she became vocal about her disenchantments and was fired for her militancy. When she was fired from the Pleasant Hill school in 1946, she was told she would never work again in a classroom in Louisiana because of her militancy.
After the death of her husband in World War II she met and married Jessie George in 1947 and moved to Monroe. To this union were born four sons: Jessie George, Jr., Joseph Lee
In 1966, she was named the managing editor for a Negro oriented newspaper the Monroe News Leader. As the editor of the paper, she soon found once again that it was not popular or rewarding to be vocal on racial issues such as the integration of schools, or women's rights. She was often reprimanded by the paper's white owner for taking editorial positions that endangered the paper's profit making potential.George, Winthrop Elton George and Sherwood George. From 1948 through 1964 she devoted much of her time to rearing her seven children. She pursued a brief career in accounting after studies at Northeast Louisiana State College.

In 1968, while still serving as the editor of the News Leader she sent her son Jessie Jr., to Wossman High School as the first Black student to participate in school desegregation in South Monroe. Her employer retaliated against her and
Henrietta George
Henrietta George

shortly after she was asked to withdraw her son from Wossman or resign, she resigned. Her column Generally Speaking was picked up by the Shreveport Sun and was circulated in Monroe on the advice of Dr. John I. Re
ddix who was a militant civic leader of the 60's.

She worked for the Sun until 1970. She supported her family through J & H Bookkeeping Service, a firm owned by she and her husband. She was a member of the Martin Temple C.M.E. Church in Monroe.

Soon after she was appointed to the parish bi-racial committee studying desegregation in the Ouachita Parish School System and an advisory committee member for the Monroe City School System. In 1971-72 the reapportionment of the city s
chool board was complete and two Blacks were guaranteed seats on the school board for the first time. She ran for the seat in friendly competition with Rev. Norman West and was elected as the first Black woman on the city school board. She served her first time with the late Dr. Henry Carroll who was the first Black man to serve.
In 1974, she was elected president of the school board and has served as vice-president and served on many committees.

In 1985, she was elected president of the board again, but was defeated in her 1986 bid for reelection. In 1990's she worked with children at the Marbles Recreation Center and wrote a weekly column in the Free Press.

In 2006, her health began to fail and she was housebound, cared for around the clock by her son Winthrop, who cared for her until his health failed in 2010. In her final years, her son Joseph cared for both his mother and brother until she died on November 26th.

Henrietta George was a devoted wife, loving mother, and a champion of the "little people."

She is gone, but not forgotten.