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 and was considered by some to be the best black long distance runner in the United States. Smith attended high school in Evanston, IL, and in 1934, became a student at Indiana University. He was not an outstanding track athlete in high school, but he excelled in college. James T. Smith was a member of the four mile relay team and set the national collegiate record by running his leg in 4 minutes and 14 seconds. In 1936, he set the mile record at the Indiana State Intercollegiate Track Meet with a time of 4 minutes and 11 seconds; it was the Indiana collegiate record for 29 years. Smith also won the National Junior A. A. U. Cross Country Championship his freshman year. He was the co-captain of the Indiana University Cross Country Team and was a member of the All-American Cross Country Team. He was selected for the Big Ten All-Star Track Team. In 1938, he broke the Big Ten record for the two mile run. James T. Smith's college track coach was E. C. Hayes.

The Achievement Commission of Kappa Alpha Psi awarded James T. Smith the Gold Key for outstanding achievement by an undergraduate member of the fraternity. Smith put himself through college by working at various jobs on and off campus. He was a business major and graduated from Indiana University in 1938. He became a public accountant and was owner of Smith's Big 10 Grocery. His brother Lannie Smith assisted him with his grocery business.
James T. Smith was the first president of the black organization 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, James T. Smith graduate 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, 05/04/1985, p.10; R. Woods, "Grocers love for people makes successful business," Indianapolis Recorder, 01/15/1966, p.11; see 'Now there is Jimmy Smith...' in the article "World of Sports" by Frank M. Davis in the Plaindealer [Kansas], 05/07/1937, p.3; see 'The Achievement Commission...' in the article "Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity discusses national problems at conclave," Negro Star, 01/15/1937, p.3; and "Smith looms out as a formidable candidate for Indiana University track," Indianapolis Recorder, 11/24/1934, p.2.

*Maceo, Kentucky was settled after the Civil War by former slaves, according to author Robert M. Rennick. The land was provided by the freedmen's former owners. One of the earlier names of the community was Powers Station in honor of Colonel J. D. Powers of Owensboro. In 1897, the community was renamed Maceo for Capt. Alonzo Maceo who was 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


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

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Smith, James T. "Jimmy",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed October 30, 2020,

Last modified: 2017-10-19 19:08:15