At 6-foot-4, George Gregory stood tall not only on the basketball court in the late 1920s but also in the annals of Harlem history and beyond.
In his debut season, Gregory played a pivotal role in guiding the Lions to fourth place in the Eastern League, a precursor to the Ivy League. By his junior year, Columbia ascended to the top of the league standings.
The zenith of Columbia basketball arrived in the 1930-31 season, Gregory’s senior year. Serving as captain, he led the team to an impressive record of 21 wins in 23 games and secured another league title. Gregory earned first-team All-Eastern League honors, marking his third consecutive recognition in four years. His career point total of 509 was remarkably high for that era.
Gregory’s impact reached beyond the basketball court. Even as an undergraduate, he embarked on a lifelong journey combating juvenile delinquency and championing civil rights. His contributions included serving as the boys’ director for the Harlem Center of the Children’s Aid Society, the nation’s largest youth project for African Americans.
In subsequent years, Gregory held administrative roles at prominent institutions such as settlement houses and youth clubs, including the Harlem Youth Center and the First Neighborhood House. He played a crucial role as a founding member of the NYC Youth Board in 1947.
From 1954 to 1968, Gregory served as a commissioner on the Municipal Civil Service Commission and spent 15 years in the office of the Manhattan Borough President with $400 million in public works projects were undertaken in Harlem. In the following decade (1968-1979), he contributed as an assistant administrator at what is now the Department of Environmental Protection.
From 1968 to 1970 Mr. Gregory was an assistant administrator of what now is named the Department of Environmental Protection. He retired in 1970.
George Gregory’s remarkable journey came to an end in Manhattan on May 11, 1994, at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy that extended far beyond the basketball court.
Photo credit: 1-2) Columbia University in Harlem.
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