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

Smith, James T. "Jimmy"

(born: 1913  -  died: 1999) James T. Smith, born in Maceo*, KY, was a national track athlete in Indiana who was considered by some the best black long distance runner in the United States.

Smith attended high school in Evanston, IL before becoming an Indiana University student in 1934. He was not an outstanding track athlete in high school, but he excelled in college under the tutelage of Coach James T.  E. C. Hayes. 

Smith was a member of the four-mile relay team at Indiana, setting the national collegiate record by running his leg in 4 minutes 14 seconds. In 1936  he set the mile record at the Indiana State Intercollegiate Track Meet with a time of 4 minutes  11 seconds; it was the Indiana collegiate record for 29 years. He also won the National Junior AAU Cross Country Championship his freshman year.

Smith was the co-captain of the Indiana University Cross Country Team and a member of the All-American Cross Country Team. He was also  selected for the Big Ten All-Star Track Team. In 1938, he broke the Big Ten record for the two-mile run.

The Achievement Commission of Kappa Alpha Psi awarded Smith the Gold Key for outstanding achievement by an undergraduate member of the fraternity. He put himself through college by working at various jobs on and off campus. He  graduated from Indiana University with a business degree in 1938 and became a public accountant who also  owned Smith's Big 10 Grocery. His brother Lannie Smith assisted him with the  grocery business. James Smith was the first president of the black Indy Trade Association.

James T. Smith was also a minister. In 1982, he graduated from Christian Theological Seminary and became an associate pastor at the Light of the World Christian Church. In 1998, he graduated from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, OH with a doctorate of ministry.

For more see C. B. Ashanin, "Thankful for the life of Rev. James T. Smith," Indianapolis Star, 12/25/1999,  p. A22; J. Cebula, "Ministry born of little sister's suffering," Indianapolis Star, 12/12/1998, p. D8; "Rev. James T. Smith to be honored," Indianapolis Recorder, 5/4/1985, p. 10; R. Woods, "Grocers love for people makes successful business," Indianapolis Recorder, 1/15/1966, p. 11; 'Now there is Jimmy Smith...' in the article "World of Sports" by Frank M. Davis in the Plaindealer [Kansas], 5/7/1937, p. 3; 'The Achievement Commission...' in the article "Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity discusses national problems at conclave," Negro Star, 1/15/1937, p. 3; and "Smith looms out as a formidable candidate for Indiana University track," Indianapolis Recorder, 11/24/1934, p. 2.


*Maceo, KY was settled after the Civil War by  former enslaved people, according to author Robert M. Rennick. The land was provided by the freedmen's former holders. One of the earlier names of the community was Powers Station in honor of Colonel J. D. Powers of Owensboro, KY. In 1897, the community was renamed Maceo for Capt. Alonzo Maceo, a Cuban mulatto killed during the Cuban revolt against Spain. Source: Kentucky Place Names, by R. M. Rennick, p. 183.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Daviess County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Maceo, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Powers Station, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Indianapolis star (newspaper)
NKAA Source: The Indianapolis recorder (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Plaindealer, The (newspaper) (Topeka)
NKAA Source: The Negro star (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Crisis (periodical)
NKAA Source: Kentucky place names

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Smith, James T. "Jimmy",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed May 28, 2024, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/2811.

Last modified: 2022-09-21 14:25:47