| David A. Clarke|
| Frank Smith|
| September 17, 1942 (age 73)
Newnan, Georgia (1942-09-17) |
Council of the District of Columbial; SNCC
Frank Smith (D.C. Council) Wikipedia
Frank Smith, Jr. (born September 17, 1942), is a civil rights activist and politician in Washington, D.C.
Born in Newnan, Georgia, in 1942, Smith attended Morehouse College where he developed his appetite for activism.
In 1960, Smith participated in the Rich's Department Store boycotts in Atlanta; and almost at the same time he was working with other students to establish Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. As a founding member of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Smith is recognized by his Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee peers as the first Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee worker sent into Mississippi to register voters. While based in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Smith worked in some of the most brutal and racist counties in Mississippi. Smith was also one of the few Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee workers employed in the original Head Start program. Working with the Child Development Group of Mississippi, Smith's Head Start program was based in Jacksonville, Mississippi, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta.
Smith worked with native Mississippi sharecroppers who had been evicted from their homes when they requested a pay raise in the men's salaries from a flat rate of $6.00 per day to $1.25 per hour. The sharecroppers, Frank and his first wife, Jean Smith, purchased land, lived in tents where they were regular and ongoing targets for the plantation owner and friends during the year when they built housing, and established one of the first (and only) black cooperative communities in Mississippi—Strike City.
As part of Freedom Summer, Smith and Frank Soracco, another Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee worker, traveled the United States to raise funds for travel and expenses for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and his friend and colleague, Fannie Lou Hamer to attend the 1964 Democratic National Convention. With the help of Vice President Hubert Humphrey and party leader Walter Mondale, Johnson engineered a compromise in which the Democratic National Committee offered the Mississippi Freedom Party two at-large seats, allowing them to watch the floor proceedings but not take part. The Mississippi Freedom Party refused this compromise, which permitted the undemocratic, white-only, regulars to keep their seats and denied votes to the Mississippi Freedom Party. While they were unsuccessful at being seated, their presence and Hamer's testimony led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
After leaving Mississippi, Smith relocated to Washington, D.C., where he continued his service to community. Frank was elected to the D.C. Board of Education in 1979; and subsequently to Council of the District of Columbia in 1982 where he served for sixteen years. His work focused on housing and economic development. While on the Council, he served as chair of the Housing and Economic Development Committee, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the Baseball Commission. As a council member he shared his passion for gardening by introducing legislation to maintain the original victory gardens and allow District residents to garden on vacant, District-owned properties. Smith's urban housing activities included setting up the original Neimiah project in the District of Columbia and introducing legislation for urban homesteading. He also served as chair of the District of Columbia Housing Authority. Smith's office records from his time as a District council member are under the care of the Special Collections Research Center at the George Washington University.
After Smith's term on the Council, he focused on his passion, African American history, and found funding to build the African-American Civil War Memorial, establish a nonprofit organization that supports the African American Civil War Museum. Smith is the founding executive director and board member of the African American Civil War Memorial Freedom Foundation and Museum.