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Gholson's History


The late General James Gholson was born on July 20, 1912 and died on Monday, December 3, 2006, at the Collington Life Care Community, in Prince George’s County, Maryland. G. James Gholson’s life is worth celebrating, it‘s worth sharing with the world. He was a legend whose determination and fierce commitment to education paved the way for African-American leaders of today.

Mr. Gholson committed his life to education and democracy. In 1954, when the Supreme Court struck down legalized segregation in public education, Mr. Gholson was leading Fairmont Heights High School, in Fairmont Heights, Maryland, in his drive for democracy and equality of opportunity. In a State afflicted by deep polarization along racial lines, he not only transformed Fairmont Heights, but dramatically improved public education for African-American children in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Given his ability to define and defend “integration” as a complement to democracy, he was charged by the superintendent of schools in the County to desegregate public education. In response to this challenge, Mr. Gholson and his colleagues produced a comprehensive desegregation plan that reformed schools in the County, and became a model for humanizing the nation’s public schools. Finding himself on the brink of an unprecedented opportunity, he traveled around the country urging the nation to invest in equality, freedom and justice. His monumental leadership represents the essence of American democracy. As a result of his national leadership and profound influence on public education, the newly constructed G. James Gholson Middle School, in Prince George’s County, was named to honor Gholson’s pioneering work.

Without fanfare and fame, G. James Gholson gave the children of yesterday and today the precious gift of education. G. James Gholson held B.S. and M.S. degrees from Hampton University. He was the first Principal of Fairmont Heights High School and served from 1950 to 1969. Fairmont Heights was opened in 1950 as Fairmont Heights Junior-Senior High School. It was one of two high schools for African-American students in Prince George’s County and replaced the Lakeland High School. He then became assistant to George Robinson, Assistant Superintendent for the Administration and Supervision of Secondary Education in Prince George’s County. From 1972 to 1973, he was Special Assistant to the Superintendent for desegregation of the Prince George’s County Public Schools. In that position, he designed and implemented the plan for the desegregation of the county schools. He served as the Assistant Superintendent for Administration of Northern Area Prince George’s County Public Schools from 1973 to 1979. He served as a consultant with schools in Louisville, Kentucky, New Castle, Delaware, Indianapolis, Indiana, Laurel, Mississippi, and the mayor’s office in Seattle, Washington.