Born in 1898 in Marshall, Texas, George Dawson was the grandson of slaves and began to work on the farm at age 4. When he was 12 years old, his family sent him to work for a white man's farm as a hired hand for a $1.50 per month wage to support his family.
When he was 21 years old, he began to travel to cities such as Memphis, New Orleans, St. Louis where he worked various jobs such as building levees and unloading coconuts on the docks. Throughout his travels he went to Canada to see the snow and experienced being treated without prejudice in Mexico.
In 1996, a literary volunteer knocked on the door of 98 year old Dawson, informing him and others in the South Dallas neighborhood that adult literacy classes were taking place at the Lincoln Instructional Center. Eagerly, he enrolled into the program and learned his alphabet in 2 days.