Gerry German, 1928 – 2012

Gerry German, 1928 – 2012


Written by: Gus John

Gerry was a life-long campaigner for children’s education rights and an unwavering supporter of all our struggles.

Having been a former headteacher and Principal Education Officer at the Community Relations Commission/Commission for Race Equality, he helped to establish the Working Group Against Racism in Children’s Resources and thirteen years ago invited me and a couple others to join him in setting up the Communities Empowerment Network (CEN). Over those thirteen years, CEN has dealt with an average of 1,000 school exclusion cases per year, providing advocacy to school students and their parents and representing them at School Governors Disciplinary Committees and at Independent Appeals Panels. Each year, we have taken some deserving cases to Judicial Review and won most of them. Gerry remained the main caseworker for CEN and its unpaid Director until yesterday.

Gerry deplored the punitive approach with which this country deals with children and young people, irrespective of their needs, and fought relentlessly for a more compassionate and children-centred schooling and juvenile justice sustem. He will be remembered for his warmth, generosity, humour and pure grit, especially when confronting injustice.

We give thanks for his extraordinary life and his giving and compassionate spirit.

Peace and hope!

Professor Gus John

Related links

See the Facebook page: Gerry German – A legend!

Communities Empowerment Network

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

25 thoughts on “Gerry German, 1928 – 2012

  1. a fitting tribute to a great man!! i will forward my email and i would love to hear more about what my great uncle did on a day to day basis. many thanks

  2. Gerry was a tremendous champion and tireless worker for racial justice and human rights (particularly of children) and someone who inspired others to challenge as well – without fear or favour – but always with a degree of humour and a mischievous twinkle in the eye. He will be sorely missed, but not forgotten. La luta continua!

    Paul Crofts

  3. RIP Ray, a King amongst men. You made such a difference and I am very proud to have known you.

  4. Gerry German an effective and tireless campaigner for children’s rights. His death is a deep lost to me and countless others. Gerry was a friend, a good and valued friend. I first met him over 10 years ago when I sought his help when one of my sons was permanently excluded from school and he helped and advised us in fighting what we felt was a grossly unfair exclusion. Since then we have kept in contact and I will miss this great man.

  5. You shared your love, you shared your passions and you gave all. Never waivering – you will live in many hearts, in many souls and in many minds. Your imagination, oratory and integrity will always shine like a beacon and bring light and hope to all.

  6. I met this wonderful man on 30th April 2012 at the Bk power of love at Brixton town hall.
    An all inspiring and perfect blend of Black and White. May God bless him and his family,he is a true slice of Heaven -Gods angel.
    Lydia & family

  7. Gerry German was my first and greatest Headmaster at Manchester High School in Mandeville, countless others we became life-long friends.Gerry made an indelible impact on us in so many positive ways. In an age and environment when corporal punishment by use of a cane, and writing of repetitive lines such 500 of ‘persistent perversity provokes the patient teacher pending painful punishment’ Gerry replaced them with the writing of essays such as ‘the importance of discipline’ and the like. He introduced classical and other genres of music broadcast over the PA system during break time.I remember vividly the morning he left us to take a phone call and came back to our classroom and said with such pathos and sorrow that ‘President Kennedy was shot a short while ago’. I remember too when he and Patsy and the children had boarded a boat in Ocho Rios on their return to England, having done their wonderful stint in Jamaica’s educational system. Gerry offered oranges to the group of students who had come to see them off. Then he said in that unique tone of his ‘these oranges are from South Africa’ to which the majority of us recoiled, I recall the ‘please as a puss (cat)’on his face. Years later it came to me that Gerry was not only testing us but testing himself on the extent to which he had helped to raise our consciousness of the world around us, our ability to distinguish between right and wrong and to do the right thing even if meant discomfort.Garth Bolton,Wayne Powell and I last saw Gerry and Patsy about 3 years ago and he had that bouncing walk as usual.His brilliant mind was as usual revved up – he was conducting research on the political history of Jamaica and was reviewing original douments! To say Gerry was loved is an understatment.To say that Gerry was British is also an understatement. Gerry was a World Citizen – a prototype of humanism,of ram-rod commitment to justice and fair play, sharp wit and endearing personality.
    My sincere condolences to Patsy, the children and other family members and friends, and to CEN,which I am confident will continue the Good Works that were Gerry’s life-long calling.

    Derek Peart

  8. What a wonderful person – RIP he was so positive and a campaigner for social justice – I will miss him. Thank you Gerry for everything – i will also remember you.
    Mekada Graham Los Angeles USA

  9. Mr German, Gerry I’d say mankind was blessed by having you in our midst. He was just a good advoccate for the disadvantaged as well as those who did not need assitance.
    Gerry,You gave tirelessly in your life to kids, to friends and your family, You Mr German , Gerry, will remain young and happy in my mind for all times. You have earned “Peace and love” sir.
    Gerry, Mr Greman, leaves a great legacy for all disadvantaged kids accross the globe.
    As I have been reflecting on my headmaster’s impact on my life this week, I think the most prevalent thought I’ve had is that I hope that the work and influence I do and have will someday be considered as Gerry’s was.
    He was my hero and was truely inspirational and I will miss him greatly.
    It is inconcievable me not being able to send an email to and not receiving a reply almost immediately anymore.
    I will not see “Peace and love from Patsy and me” his signature ending again.
    “Did you ever know that you’re my hero
    and everything I would like to be?
    I can fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings.
    It might have appeared to go unnoticed, but I’ve got it all here in my heart. I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it, I would be nothing without you”
    Gerry you were a Good Man. Peace and love.

  10. My Headmaster at Mold Alun early 1970s. He was quiet, calm, gentlemanly and way ahead of his time.

  11. I had the pleasure of meeting Gerry very early on in my teaching career during the 1990s, and found his insights and expertise on equalities and diversity best practice relating to the design and publication of teaching and learning resources for schools unrivalled and deeply beneficial. I would like to thank him for everything he did to make the education system in the UK fairer. Hew was a wonderfully wise educator, a tenacious and unwavering activist, and a great man.

  12. I am so thankful that I had tea with Gerry and Patsy in their garden a few years ago. What a lovely English afternoon. Thank you all for your remembrances. Derek’s was lovely. The one thing I would like to add is that Gerry could sing. Oh the lovely times we had at Knox College doing G&S operettas. I hear in my mind’s wallpaper Gerry always singing “Take a pair of sparkling eyes …”
    (wss that “HMS Pinafore”?). The other image is that Gerry could not pass an old person on the road, especially if it was raining. He had to give them a ride. I loved him even though he was a PNP (ha!). You know, I never thought of Gerry as being anything but Jamaican. Forever Jamaican in all our hearts.

  13. What a wonderful person Gerry was.I had the pleasure of being a resident student at knox,and lived at “German” Hostel.During my time at the hostel,I often wondered if he ever slept at nights as he was always up ensuring that some of the boys were not tempted to sleep walk unto any unauthorised areas of the school property.
    I also enjoyed singing with him in one of the G&S operettas[I played and sang the part of The MEKADO].What a voice he had.R.I.P. GERRY.You had a good run.

  14. Gerry German was a great mentor, a motivator and always wanted to help the underdog. I had the pleasure of being one of his students at Knox college. I had thec privilege of speaking to him a few years ago and he was just as vibrant and committed to his project helping the youth.
    Gerry rest in peace

  15. As an old student of Knox College,I first encountered Gerry in the classroom where he taught me Geography. He had a way about him that made this rather dry subject full of life that stirred the imagination.He was also an avid football player where many of us youngsters learned the finer points of the game from him.And of course, that wonderful Welsh tenor in the various G&S operettas, made the show a success – every time.Gerry,you made a lasting impression on this old student as I’m sure you did on others. Rest in Peace.

  16. I was a student of Gerry Germans at Knox College in the 1960’s, and I have good rememberances of him. Oh could he sing, I enjoyed performing in the operas with him, he had a lovely tenor voice.
    I bet he is singing in heaven in St Peter’s chior now!!! Rest in peace Gerry German, your work on earth is done well.

    Jennifer Ogilvie

  17. A loss of great human rights champion. Touched our students hearts and inspired them to positive action. W at Goldsmiths College, Community & Youth Work course will never forget hime and strive to continue his legacy.

  18. Sonja Newman

    I was so privileged to be in Gerry’s class for both Geography and History. Field trips, interesting anecdotes–the role model for my teaching career. Thank you Gerry. You are much loved.

  19. Thank you Patsy for bringing Gerry to Jamaica and for sharing him with us all. Also thanks for teaching me French. You are in my thoughts and my prayers. Much love.

  20. I feel so blessed and honored to have met one of God’s stalwarts. He protected,educated and supported so many children and families Let’s keep his dreams going strong. Thank you Gerry

  21. Dear Dear Gerry – a Hero – an inspiration – sleep well.
    Jean Anastacio

  22. Just come across this sad news. Gerry gave a brilliant lecture to me as a student at Roehampton University in the late 90’s. I instantly fell in love with his passion for education, his integrity and above all his love of children and young people. He was kind enough to assist me personally concerning my son and the school my son was attending, writing a wonderful letter to the headteacher which I still cherish to this day. Gerry was adamant that schools/government should not immediately blame the child and instead look closer at the way in which teachers/schools conduct themselves.

    I am hopeful that this inspirational man’s legacy will continue through his family and the people moved by his compassion for children.

    Angela O’Brien (London)

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