George Trower-Subira, author, lecturer

Trower-Subira
Trower-Subira
Posted: December 16, 2010

FOR A MAN who spent his life in the often frustrating struggle to win justice for African-Americans, George Russell Trower-Subira embodied the meaning of the Swahili word that he added to his given name.

"Subira" means "patience" in Swahili. And that was one of the main characteristics of George's character.

"He had incredible patience with people," said his brother, Len Trower. "Even people who did unjust things to him, he would forgive them. He would try to rationalize why they did it. Me? I'd be throwing things against the wall."

George Russell Trower-Subira, who grew up in Philadelphia as George Trower and wrote numerous books of self-help advice for African-Americans as George Subira, collapsed and died of a heart attack Sunday while jogging on the track at Penn Wood High School, in East Lansdowne. He was 66 and lived in East Lansdowne.

He was a major influence on the subject of black entrepreneurship through his writings and speeches. His book, "Black Folks Guide to Making Big Money in America," published in 1980, was the first to tell blacks that what was missing from their drive for equality was success in the economic arena.

"That book set off a ton of other authors writing about that topic," his brother said. "It was the first book to really address that issue."

In 1988, George published what is considered the only sales-training book for African-Americans, "Getting Black Folks to Sell."

Other books were "Black Folks Guide to Business Success" and "Money Issues in Black Male/Female Relationships."

George traveled the country expounding these views, and was in demand at schools and conferences as a speaker and teacher of economic values and business development for blacks.

He gained wide recognition for his ideas and was interviewed on the Phil Donahue show, the "Today" show, "Tony Brown's Journal" and the "700 Club," and was written up in Essence, Ebony, Jet and Black Enterprise, among others.

Always active in developing programs to benefit blacks, especially young people, George was working on a mentoring program for black youths and former prisoners when he died.

His aim was to stop what he saw as the revolving door of incarceration for African-American men.

George Trower was born in Philadelphia to George R. Trower Sr. and Roxanna Trower. He began running track at Shoemaker Junior High School and, as a member of the mile relay team, participated in the Penn Relays. He continued to run track at Overbrook High School, from which he graduated.

After high school, he moved to California and attended Barstow Junior College and Pasadena City College. He earned a bachelor's degree in history from California State University, Los Angeles. He later received two graduate degrees from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education, and attended Rutgers Law School for a year.

In California in the Black Power '60s, George became involved in the US Organization, a black nationalist group founded by Maulana Karenga, who also started the observance of Kwanzaa.

George returned east and wound up in Newark, N.J., where he became associated with the poet and activist Amiri Baraka, the former LeRoi Jones. They worked in the successful mayoralty campaign of Kenneth Gibson, who, in 1970, became the first African-American mayor of any city in the northeastern U.S.

In the '70s, George was an instructor in black studies at Seton Hall University, in South Orange, N.J.

In 1992, he spoke at the third annual Burlington County Black Business Exposition in New Jersey, where he said he wanted to "sell our people on selling."

"We came here as laborers and some of us still have that mentality that that's all we can do or are supposed to do," he said. "Our idea of how to make a living is that you sweat. For whites, it's get a product and you sell."

In 1997, he became a founding member of the Matah Network, an African-American company that distributes black-manufactured products nationwide through a network-marketing process.

In 2002, he was selected as the East Coast expansion coordinator for Compro Tax, an African-American-owned income tax preparation company. He helped open 20 tax offices in seven states.

"He was the ultimate people person," said Len Trower, former contract administrator for the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

"He had tremendous persistence and drive. It was very hard to discourage him. No matter what failures he encountered, he never let them hold him back. He handled adversity by saying, 'Well, I'll have to try something else.' "

Len said that his brother never lost his passion for physical training. He was involved in weightlifting and running, which was why he was on the school track on Sunday.

Besides his brother, George is survived by two sons, Ibn Trower and Dadisi Trower.

Services: Were being arranged.

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