John B. Smith, Sr. Oral History Interview

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John B. Smith Sr., Publisher and CEO of The Atlanta Inquirer.

Born and raised in LaGrange, Georgia, Mr. Smith grew up during the period of legalized segregation in the South. This interview gives insight into Mr. Smith’s life experiences, the people who influenced him and helped shape his values to be self-sufficient and to give back to the community. Mr. Smith talks about his experiences growing up in LaGrange, attending Morehouse College and Atlanta University, serving in the U.S. Army, and teaching mathematics for 31 years in the Atlanta Public School System. He speaks about his long career working with the Black press, starting when he was a young boy selling Black newspapers in LaGrange. During the 1960s he began working with The Atlanta Inquirer as a way to participate in the Atlanta Student Movement’s actions to end segregation in Atlanta. He has worked for 55 years with The Atlanta Inquirer, where he progressed from sales to publisher and owner. Mr. Smith also discusses his membership in the National Newspaper Publishers Association where he served as chair from 2005-2009, and he talks about the historical importance and future of the Black press.


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