Jerry Gore (71) grew up in Maysville, a critical crossing point from the South to the North on the Underground Railroad. As a child, his mother took him across the Ohio River to the home of the Rev. John Rankin, an abolitionist who helped hundreds of escaped slaves find their way north.
The lessons he learned from that trip and through his mother’s emphasis on knowing his roots shaped Gore’s entire life and career. Now, a new scholarship established at Morehead State will honor his legacy of preserving African-American history and heritage.
The Jerry Gore African-American Heritage Scholarship Endowment was established by members of the African-American Alumni Affinity Group in honor of Gore, who passed away suddenly due to illness on Aug. 3, 2016. Nearly 150 alums donated a combined $32,000 to endow the scholarship, which will be managed by the MSU Foundation Inc. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a current MSU student.
Gore, a descendant of escaped slaves, attended the segregated John G. Fee School until the eighth grade before moving to Maysville High School. He earned dual bachelor’s degrees in health and physical education and industrial arts from Morehead State in 1971 and continued his education at MSU, earning two master’s degrees from MSU in 1972 and 1975. He worked in administration at MSU for 27 years and retired from his post as director of minority student affairs in 1998.
After working at MSU, Gore helped establish the National Underground Railroad Museum in Maysville. He also co-founded Freedom Time, a company that offers tours of Underground Railroad sites. He was featured on the History Channel program, “Save Our History: The Underground Railroad,” and helped to organize the annual Freedom Celebration held at Maysville Community and Technical College. Gore also traveled the country to educate children about the history of slavery and the Underground Railroad, performing informative, historical skits at schools.
“It was through learning the true history of the African that everything changed for him, along with the understanding that our true history did not start with slavery, but as kings and queens,” said Peggy Overly (81), Gore’s friend and colleague. “He always said, ‘to know where you are going, you must know from which you came.’”
Over the course of his career, he was presented with the Lucy Hart Smith-Atwood S. Wilson Award for Civil and Human Rights in Education, and the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Award, and he was recognized by the National Education Association and the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History. He was also awarded the Outstanding Service Award from MSU Minority Student Services.
“He had many sons and daughters at MSU and never married nor had any children of his own,” Overly said. “Jerry helped thousands and thousands of students to come to Morehead from all kinds of backgrounds beyond students of color. What a legacy.”
For more information about the Jerry Gore African-American Heritage Scholarship Endowment, contact the MSU Foundation at 606-783-2033 or visit