Georgie Woods is a product of four of the largest cities in America. He was born in Barnett, Georgia (near Atlanta), raised in New York, married in Chicago and has spent most of his working life in Philadelphia. He is widely known as a talk show host, disc jockey, civil rights activist, community leader, promoter and entrepreneur.
Georgie worked as a disc jockey for WWRL Radio in New York. He moved to Philadelphia in 1950 and got his first job by calling WHAT Radio after reading of a job opening in Jet Magazine. His first salary was $18 net per week. He worked for WHAT Radio for three years and then became employed at WDAS Radio. For more than 20 years, he has worked for one or the other of these African-American oriented radio stations as a disc jockey or talk show host.
He began his career as a promoter at Philadelphia's Town Hall with Jocko Henderson, featuring The Velvelettes. He produced many one nighters with different groups and moved his show to the Nixon Theatre and eventually to the Uptown Theatre in 1957. Some of the music industry's top names were presented to Philadelphia by Georgie Woods including, but not limited to: Michael Jackson, The Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Jerry Butler and Earth, Wind and Fire. Georgie produced these shows to provide alternative activities for the city's youth-—to create an outlet for their unharnessed energy.
Woods active civil rights career began in 1960, as vice president of the NAACP He was credited for bringing peace to the Philadelphia neighborhoods during the 1964 riots. In 1964, Woods participated in the March On Washington. Through his efforts, 15 bus loads of people went to Washington for that historical event. Here, Georgie heard King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech. This made such an impact on him that he became one of King's most ardent supporters.
Georgie Woods was active in every civil rights struggle in the country. Locally, he was a key operator in the struggle to get Girard College to admit African-American youth. For years, they kept up a constant vigil outside the walls of the College and had a strong contingent of youth involved in this effort. In 1965, he traveled to Selma, Alabama with Dr. King. As part of a national protest, he led a march on City Hall with 15,000 African-American people tying up traffic. They went to protest the treatment of African-Americans by the government and this was the closest branch of government to which they could take their message.
This was also the period in which Malcolm X was speaking across the country with a very different message of equality for African-Americans. Georgie worked with the Muslim community in support of some of the activities initiated by Malcolm X.
In 1966, Woods and Sam Evans invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Philadelphia. Despite some resistance from the African-American leadership about bringing this "outsider" into the Philadelphia civil rights scene, King was greeted by massive crowds for the five days he spent in Philadelphia. Georgie Woods joined Philadelphia recording artist, Bobby Rydell on a 17-day tour of Vietnam. He was the first African-American to go to Vietnam to entertain the troops.
While disc jockeying and promoting was his main profession, Woods used his position to raise money for the needy. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised, primarily from the music industry, to feed the hungry and house the homeless. One of his most ardent supporters was and still is, songwriter/producer, Kenny Gamble. Georgie Woods began his formal political career in 1967. He ran for City Council on the Republican ticket and received 333,000 votes. While he won the election with the original count, he lost the recount. This was a very serious political lesson for Georgie.
After Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death in 1968, things seemed to go downhill. African-American leadership seemed to be shattered and the leadership void couldn't be filled. Georgie began to again concentrate on promoting shows and sponsoring benefits for different groups.
In the 70's, Mayor Frank Rizzo proclaimed Georgie Woods Day and public schools were closed for the day. The Jackson Five, Don Cornelius (Soul Train) and Mrs. Coretta Scott King came to Philadelphia to help celebrate. He received the Liberty Bell and later the Liberty Bowl, Philadelphia's two highest honors.
In the 80's, Georgie Woods worked to get politicians elected. He was active in the elections of the first African-American Mayor, first African-American State Senator, first African-American City Commissioner, and most of the African-American politicians that have been elected since he has been in Philadelphia.
In 1988, Georgie founded the United Black Business Association (UBBA) and built it into a membership of more than 100 businesses in less than a year. UBBA provided a new level of knowledge of minority business in the city. He is the father of one son and three daughters. He is distinguished as being the only African-American to witness the signing of the Panama Canal Treaty by President Jimmy Carter at the White House.
In 1987, he was approached by Saboor Muhammad with an idea to merchandise "Georgie Woods Potato Chips". Georgie thought he was joking; however, Mr. Muhammad kept coming back to Georgie and after the third visit, George said "yes". His first check was received a month later and this made him take a whole new look at the idea. Many people had laughed at the idea. Others have tried to steal the idea. However, the idea has gained 99% support coming from the African-American community.
Georgie Woods, Saboor Muhammad and new partner, Gamble and Huff hope to make a significant dent in the market of 30 million African-Americans who buy potato chips in America. You are a major part of that goal.