I have always appreciated Rev. Smith’s answers when he would be questioned about the factors that motivated him. His response was he was extremely fortunate to have been educated in the seminary by true men of God and upon graduating God began to direct his life. He went on to explain that the Master opened his eyes, mind and heart, thereby enabling him to focus on the welfare of the people including those outside the walls of Monumental Church.
God said to him, “Feed my sheep” and the Reverend clearly understood that bread alone would not be sufficient. He then began to feed the community on the importance of a quality education, self-reliance, honest employment, sophisticated voting, respect and the clear understanding that no man is free until all men are free. However under Monumental Baptist Church’s leadership a food pantry opened that provided food for the community. There was also a dire need for clothes in the community and once again the need for God’s children was addressed.
At an affair a United Methodist minister described Rev. Smith as a person who understood that as a man of God, he was obligated to perpetuate affliction upon those who afflict the people.
Reverend Smith duplicated one of Christ’s miracles, which was giving sight to the blind. How? Rev. Smith had come in contact with untold numbers of people who were blind to the conditions surrounding them. They could not see anything wrong with the overall conditions in the communities, including immediate family, schools, churches and the political system not working on their behalf. However through the efforts of Rev. Smith their eyes were opened and they began to realize that their destiny could be influenced by themselves. Yes, they were no longer blind because they could see.
Reverend Smith would frequently remind us that leaders throughout the course of history had beaten tremendous odds. He would refer to Mahatma Gandhi (the British empire), Toussaint Overture (Napoleon), and Fidel Castro (powerful Americans).
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)