Courtesy of the Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr., Club
Special to Frost Illustrated
George Smith began his work as a civil rights activist at an early age in Meridian, Miss., where he born. In Meridian, George experienced and witnessed many injustices against blacks and made civil rights activism his lifelong crusade. He participated in numerous marches and protests in the south and incurred many hardships standing up for the rights of not only black people, but all people. Every year up until illness in the family, he and his lovely wife of 51 years, Louise, and others made the journey back in history to the Civil Rights Era. George and Louise Smith served on the board of MLK Club as the keynote speaker and civil rights tour coordinators. On the trips back to the south, they provided firsthand accounts of their experiences during this historic period.
The last bus tour George and his wife headed up was on June 16 through June 19, 2011 when they took a chartered bus and headed south to Montgomery, Ala. While traveling on the bus, the group viewed videos that provided an overview of events that took place during the Civil Rights Era and prepared the participants for the journey they were about to embark upon—a journey through which George and Louise had lived.
Part of that tour included a visit to First Union Baptist Church in Meridian, Miss., to join up with others to form the Caravan for Justice. Each year people from all over the U.S. travel by caravan to Meridian to pay tribute and seek justice for the three slain Civil Rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman and the other unsolved murdered individuals. This was the 47th anniversary of the event. By police escort, the Caravan for Justice proceeded to the Lauderdale County Courthouse for a rally and speeches. We were warmly and graciously greeted by the mayor of Meridian, Cheri Barry, during the program. Speakers during the event included George and Louise Smith and Dee McKinley (all from Fort Wayne) as well as other civil rights activists.
George and Louise were also responsible for securing keynote speakers for the MLK Club Unity Day Celebration every year. Due to their continued civil rights involvement and contacts they have secured numerous magnificent speakers for the event over the years (Mayor James Young, Valerie Hicks-Powe Esq., Attorney Sandra Jaribu Hill, Dr. Derek King, Sr. and many others).
What we will remember the most about George is that he was a man of God and that he loved and cherished his beautiful wife, Louise. They were true soul mates and had an unbreakable bound that endeared them to each other. He also loved his children, Ramona and Tony, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was a brother who loved his fellow man and did whatever he could to help others and keep the peace in a non-violent manner. He had a great sense of humor and kept you laughing. He was a mentor and willingly shared his knowledge and leadership with others.
He had a belief in right, wrong, truth, justice and the American way. He believed that all men were created equal and should be able to enjoy the American dream. George fought for equal rights his whole life as a phenomenal Civil Rights veteran. We will truly miss our brother and his contributions.
This article originally appeared in our May 15, 2013 issue.