By Steven D. Manning
Special to Frost Illustrated
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
Those words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. call us to put others before ourselves and to dedicate our lives to service. The late
George Smith, who was a board member of Fort Wayne’s Martin Luther King Club, was a pure example of living an unselfish life. As part of the upcoming Dr. King Unity Day Celebration, scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Jan. 20 at the Grand Wayne Center, the MLK Club will hold a tribute to Smith to celebrate his life and the many contributions he gave to various causes, most notably the Civil Rights Movement.
MLK Club President Bennie Edwards said, “What I remember most about George is that he was a man of God. He loved and cherished his beautiful wife Louise. They were true soul mates. He also loved his children, Ramona and Tony, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was a brother that loved his fellow man and did whatever he could to help others and keep the peace in a non-violent manner.”
Edwards added that Smith had a great sense of humor. And, he believed that all men were created equal and should be able to enjoy the American dream.
“George fought for civil rights his whole life and was a phenomenal civil rights veteran,” Edwards explained.
Smith, who passed away back in April of 2013 at the age of 69, came of age during the turbulent 1960s.
He was born and raised in Meridian, Miss. He witnessed many injustices against blacks and made civil rights his life-long crusade. Smith was director of CORE (Congress Of Racial Equality) in Meridian. He also led and participated in many demonstrations in Mississippi and throughout the South, including the Bloody Sunday March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery, Ala. Smith was one of the best friends of James Chaney, one of the three civil rights workers who was murdered in Philadelphia, Miss., in 1964. Edwards said George always said, “that could have been me.”
Before his illness and subsequent death, Smith was heavily involved in the Martin Luther King Club. He served on the Executive Board and, along with his wife Louise, was the coordinator the Club’s Civil Rights Tour as well as Guest Speaker Coordinator for the Annual MLK Unity Day Celebration.
MLK Club Program Director Fran Grant said, “George was a much beloved individual. He was a commanding person and yet he was a gentle giant. I truly miss him, we all do.”
A tribute to Smith will be held during the 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., Jan. 20, 29th Annual Dr. King Unity Day Celebration at the Grand Wayne Center. Grant said the United Male Chorus is scheduled to sing and the General Motors Retirees Club will be on hand to honor George. Smith co-founded the Chorus and he served as vice president of the Retiree’s Club.
Long time friends Larry Lee, Eva Hall, Ed Starks and Delois McKinley-Eldridge also scheduled to salute Smith.
Breakfast With the Clergy will be held earlier in the day, at 8 a.m. at the Courtyard Marriott, right across the Street. The cost is $20. RSVP by Jan. 17, by calling Fran Grant at (260) 493-0980.
Next, we’ll report on the Youth Expo portion of the upcoming MLK Unity Day Celebration.
Steven D. Manning is president and CEO of Manning Video Productions LLC. He can be reached at (260) 247-2517.