From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Smith, Charles Herbert

(born: 1931) 

The following information comes from the written biography of Reverend Charles H. Smith, provided by Yvonne Giles.

Reverend Charles H. Smith, born in Lexington, KY, was recognized by the Herald-Dispatch newspaper as the 6th most influential person of the 20th Century in the Huntington Tri-State area (West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky). Rev. Smith is a graduate of Virginia Union University (BA in English) and the school's Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Religion (Masters of Divinity), and he holds post-graduate certification in Epidemiology in Public Health from the University of Pennsylvania, and Executive Management Certification from Harvard University.

In 1960, he became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Huntington, WV, and took on the mission of eliminating segregation in Huntington. He was co-founder and executive director of the Tri-State Opportunities Industrialization Center (O.I.C.) in Huntington [employment and training programs], which had an integrated faculty and student body. He was director of the West Virginia Jobs Program. He was co-founder of ACTION, Inc. (A Community to Improve its Neighborhood), which advocated for social and economic justice for the common good of the community. He led his church in establishing Rotary Gardens, a 21-acre low income integrated housing development in Huntington. 

Rev. Smith was active on many fronts, including serving as chair of the West Virginia State NAACP Life Membership Committee, deputy executive director of the national NAACP, and a member of the board of directors of the national NAACP. Rev. Smith established a seafood business, Fisherman's Wharf, and a catering business that provided food services to child development centers and commercial institutions. A few years after leaving Huntington, Reverend Charles H. Smith and his wife Kimanne I. Core Smith lived in Madison, NJ, where Rev. Smith was pastor of the First Baptist Church. His publishing company, Jubilee Creations, produced Jubilee Legacy Collection, which traces the spiritual origins of African Americans, from Africa to the 20th Century.

Additional information:

Reverend Charles H. Smith, the son of Rev. T. H. and Helen Smith, was a civil rights activist in his hometown of Lexington, KY; he participated in the early sit-ins in downtown Lexington [source: Blackford, Linda B., "Lexington civil rights pioneer credits church for his many successes," Lexington Herald-Leader, 10/27/2013, p. A3]. He also helped organize the first chapter of CORE at Shiloh Baptist Church where his father, Rev. T. H. Smith, was pastor for 30 years. CORE meetings were held at Pleasant Green Baptist Church in Lexington. Rev. Charles H. Smith had returned to Lexington in 1955, after his graduation from Virginia Union University and following his brief time as pastor of a church in Philadelphia, PA. In 1960, he left Kentucky for Huntington, WV, where he was pastor of the First Baptist Church and a civil rights activist; he is a member of the West Virginia Hall of Fame. He continues to be remembered for being the eulogist at the funerals of the 13 who died in the 1970 plane crash when most of the Marshall University football team was killed.

Rev. Charles H. Smith served as the chair of the NAACP's Board's Committee on Economic Development in 1973 while also serving as pastor of his church in Huntington [source: "NAACP Board selects Illinois leader as successor to Ming," The Crisis, December 1973, pp. 349-350]. The First Baptist Church in Huntington, WV, is located at 801 6th Avenue, and within the building is the Charles H. Smith Fellowship Hall. The Rotary Gardens Housing Complex is located at 65 Smith Drive (also named for Rev. Charles H. Smith) [source: T. Stuck, "First Baptist Church to host youth group reunion," Herald-Dispatch, 08/17/2014, p. 1].

During his tenure at the First Baptist Church in Huntington, "the church was engaged in a grocery store, fish market, restaurant, credit union, low-income housing and state supplemented day care."- - [source: First Baptist Huntington History webpage (link below)]. In 1980, after 20 years as the church pastor, Rev. Smith left the First Baptist Church in Huntington to become Deputy Executive Director of the NAACP [source: "Deputy Executive Director named," The Crisis, June/July 1980, p. 222]. At that time, he was the husband of Lillie Hamilton, from Richmond, VA, and they were the parents of three daughters. In 1983, Rev. Smith was named deputy national political director of the John Glen presidential campaign (OH U.S. Senator, Democrat) [source: "On the move," Black Enterprise, July 1983, p. 76, bottom of column 3]. 

Throughout his career, Rev. Smith frequently visited the Huntington First Baptist Church for anniversaries and other special occasions, as noted in articles in the Herald-Dispatch. Rev. Smith was pastor at the First Baptist Church in Madison, CT for ten years, serving as interim pastor, having replaced Rev. Johnnie Brewster, who died in 2000, and becoming the permanent pastor in 2002 [S. Capone, "Madison well-wishers say goodbye to Rev. Smith," Madison Eagle, 08/24/2012 - online]. Rev. Smith left the church in 2012 for his new home in Georgia, though he continues to serve as pastor emeritus at the First Baptist Church in Huntington. Rev. Smith is the father of five daughters.

Kentucky County & Region

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Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Herald Dispatch (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Holy Bible : the jubilee legacy : King James version
NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Crisis (periodical)
NKAA Source: Herald Dispatch (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Black enterprise (periodical)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Smith, Charles Herbert,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 30, 2024,

Last modified: 2023-06-09 14:17:10