Ever since Gerry Monroe graduated from Jack Yates High School in Third Ward in 1986, he’s made Houston children his priority. The controversial activist makes no qualms about being a thorn in the side of officials, especially those who educate our children.
Monroe, who was instrumental in facilitating the recent return of Yates High School principal Tiffany Guillory, talked with the Defender about why passion fuels his fight for Houston area youth.
Defender: You are super passionate about issues affecting students in our district. Where did that come from?
Gerry Monroe: That comes from being one of those kids. I was a kid that wasn’t supposed to make it. When I got to Yates, I just had a bunch of good people, good teachers, administrators that wrapped their arms around me, and I was able to make it through high school. I went through some life-changing surgeries and I wasn’t supposed to make it. God told me, “I gave you an assignment, and if you don’t do it, then I’m gonna shorten your days.” My assignment is the youth. I just believe that these kids can be anything that they want to be. But I also know that the school system is failing them across the country. So, I’m just doing what people say when they say it takes a village. I’m one of the villagers that believes in public education, and I believe that our kids are not getting a fair shot.
Defender: You are known in the district as a hell-raiser. It’s a moniker that you proudly carry. Why is that?
Monroe: You know, in the Bible when Jesus went into the temple and kicked over the tables? That was in reference to the thieves and the killers that were in there just messing over children and different things like that. So, education is my temple, and if I gotta come through and kick over the tables, then that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna take you to hell before I get you to heaven. I’m a guy that’s proactive. I can sit down and talk to people. We can make it make sense, we can rationalize it. Also know in business that you can’t get everything that you want. So, even though I may attack an issue, I may know in my heart I may want 10 things, but if I get three, I’m better than what I was when I wasn’t getting anything. I am not begging for what my tax money has already paid for, which is a quality education for these kids.
Defender: You were instrumental in the fight to bring Yates principal Tiffany Guillory back to campus. What was the driving force behind that effort?
Monroe: I was given an assignment by two of my former coaches before they passed away; Coach Murphy and Coach McGowan. They told me to do whatever I had to do to protect the legacy of this school. So, I have been working at Yates and I’ve seen the work that this lady does. I’ve seen what she puts into these children and her staff. And I’ve also seen HISD not giving her the financial support, not giving her the programs that she needs, and I was not just gonna sit back and let them do that to her. They’ve done it to other principals.
Gerry Monroe, Yates Prinicipal Tiffany Guillory, Councilmember Carolyn Shabazz and Marcus Brooks.
Defender: Tell us about your show, “The War Zone,” which is in its fourth year.
Monroe: My purpose of my show (which airs on Facebook, IG and Youtube) is just to bring awareness to issues, as well as uncover illegal activities. No matter if it’s in school, politics or the community, I’m all about exposing the truth. I get a lot of pushback, especially in the political world, that they don’t like it. Well, if you’re not doing anything illegal, then there’s nothing for me to talk about. My show gives us an opportunity to look at things from a broader perspective. And then the things that I cover, a lot of times, mainstream media does not cover. It’s a nonpartisan show. So Republicans and Democrats can sit down and I ask the tough questions. If you are not willing to be asked a tough question, then don’t sit down with me.