JEROME SMITH 2018-06-01T10:14:44-05:00

Project Description

THE ICON: Jerome Smith

THE LEGACY: Jerome Smith’s activism started early. When he was riding a New Orleans bus at the age of 9 or 10, he removed the movable sign that separated seating areas for white and black riders. Seeing that other passengers were disturbed, an older African-American woman said she would take care of it. She took him off the bus, then hugged him and said, “Never stop.” He never did. A lifelong activist, Smith put his life on the line as a Freedom Rider on buses through the Jim Crow South, but not all his work involved confrontation. In 1968, he founded Tambourine and Fan to instill in young people the importance of culture, history and tradition. In a 2014 conversation with Jarvis DeBerry, Smith said his mission “is not civil rights.” Rather, he said, “We demand that our humanity be respected.”

THE ARTIST: Sean Randall,

THE INSPIRATION: “Our people always put themselves up for struggle. Many of the unknown paid a tremendous price. It was all about our collective strength. The collective thing was much more powerful than Dr. King, much more powerful than whatever my humble contributions were.” — Jerome Smith, in a 2011 article for AARP magazine