Reverend Kelly Miller Smith 1920-1984

smithk The Reverend Kelly Miller Smith was born October 28, 1920, in the all-black town of Mount Bayou, Mississippi, to Terry Monroe and Priscilla (Anderson) Smith. He got his bachelor’s degree in religion in 1942 at Morehouse College and a Master of Divinity at Howard University.
He participated in the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), was the head of the local NAACP and in January 1958 organized the Nashville Christian Leadership Council (NCLC) as an affiliate of the SCLC. The NCLC would become a movement center not only for local organization but a recruitment and training center for young future leaders.

He taught Homiletics at the Baptist Theological Seminary. Students in his class included future leaders of the Civil Rights movement, including the Reverend James Bevel, John Lewis, The Reverend C.T. Vivian and Bernard Lafayette. [page 176] Reverend James Bevel would recall:

“He was down to earth, he was young and he was logically clear. He never did come to the end of his sermons whooping and screaming. He came to logical, rational crescendos, based on logic, something like King…[page 176]”

Reverend Smith worked with another young Minister, Reverend James Lawson to recruit from nearby Colleges. The students they recruited would go on to lead sit in’s and non-violent protests and be leaders themselves. The ministers they recruited provided both flexible networked organizing centers for non-violent resistance and a refuge for movement people from around the country.

The students recruited would form the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Their numbers would include, in addition to the before mentioned John Lewis, Bernard Lafayette and James Bevel; Diane Nash Bevel, Marion Barry, Cordell Reagan and Matthew Jones — all of whom would go on to provide years of leadership to the Civil Rights movement and to their country.

Sources and Further Reading:
Origins of the Civil Rights Movement by Aldon D. Morris, page 174-177

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