George W. Ware Jr., also known as Gro Hungan Yabofé Noványón Idizol, was an educator and co-founder of the Black Music Association.
He died Oct. 5, 2012, of lung cancer. He was 72.
He was born Apr. 21, 1940, to Jimmie Lu Bo and George Washington Ware Sr. in Camp Hill, Ala.
He attended Tuskegee Institute, now known as Tuskegee University, where he earned a master’s degree in biochemistry. As a graduate student he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He completed his post-graduate course of study at New York University and Columbia University.
He assisted Stokely Carmichael, who took the name of Kwame Ture, in the formation of the Black Power Movement.
In recognition of his active involvement in the African American Civil Rights Movement, he was made an honorary member of the Black Panther Party by H. Rap Brown and Kwame Ture.
In addition to his work in the Civil Rights Movement, he was a lifelong educator, who taught everything from quantum physics to basic math at inner city high schools. He was on the faculty of Hunter College in New York, Temple University in Philadelphia and chairman of the Department of Natural Science and Social Ecology at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt.
He was a pioneer in the field of urban horticulture, creating one of the first gardens with organic crops in what had been a vacant lot in North Philadelphia. The Sea Change Community Program in Urban Horticulture was one of the first profitable organic gardens in the country.
George Ware was a community organizer from 1965 to 1975 for the Black music industry and Black radio with the Fair Play Committee in conjunction with the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers.
He teamed up with Stevie Wonder, Ewart Abner, then president of Motown, Dick Griffey, founder of Solar Records and the Sound of Philadelphia’s Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff to create the Black Music Association (BMA) — the first Black music trade association. It was through the efforts of the BMA that President Jimmy Carter declared June to be Black Music Month.
The BMA’s board applied political pressure to the music industry that resulted in the hiring of Black executives by major record labels. The association inspired the Congressional Black Caucus to hold a hearing that resulted in the nascent music networks being pressured to add Black artists to their programming.
In the post Black Power Movement, civil rights, and Black Music Association era of his life, Ware continued his universal education and interest in African traditional religion. He received his Elekes and Warriors in the Lucumi tradition from Baba Maurice in Harlem, N.Y. in 1975.
The natural outgrowth of Ware’s life-long interest and dedication in Black culture led him to develop an interest in Haitian voodoo. He was initiated in Haitian Voodoo by Gro Mambo Angéla Novanyon Idizol at LePeristyle Haitian Sanctuary in Philadelphia at the first level as a Hunsi and received his first spiritual name, Ayenta, on Oct. 16, 1988.
On July 7, 1997, Ware was initiated at LePeristyle Haitian Sanctuary Humofor in Mariani, Haiti into the Novanyon Humofor lineage that has been acknowledged with more than 500 years of existence at the same location. He achieved the highest level of the priesthood by receiving the Ceremony of Asson.
Ware served as a confidante and advisor to Gro Mambo Angélá Noványón, Idizol, a world renowned high priestess of Haitian Voodoo, founder of LePeristyle Haitian Sanctuary in the United States of America and The National African Religion Congress (NARC), a worldwide certifying board for priests and priestesses of traditional African-based religions from around the globe.
Ware was the co-founder and president of NARC, the vice president of LePeristyle Haitian Sanctuary and vice president of L’Ogatwa Au d’ Nomn Societi (Men’s Society of LePeristyle Haitian Sanctuary).
He also helped produce and publish the Directory of Priests and Priestesses, Babalawos and Workers.
He is survived by his wife, Octavia Ware/Mambo Viel Noványón; sons, Akin B. Ware/Hunsi Ayenta, Jr., Gro Hungan (High Priest) Foknanpwen Noványón, Idizol/ Rahim Thompson; daughter, Ngozi; brothers, William and John Ware; daughter-in-law, Tanisha Thompson, granddaughter, Veriteady; godmother, Gro Mambo Angélá Noványón Idizol; and other relatives and friends.
Video of George Ware speaking at the SNCC 50th Anniversary Conference, April 2010, in Raleigh, NC: