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

Smith, John T.

(born: 1919  -  died: 1994) 

John T. Smith was born in Lexington, KY, the son of Helen E. and Dr. Thomas H. Smith. Helen and her son both graduated from Old Dunbar High School around 1936; Helen had returned to high school after raising her children to become the first graduate from the Adult Education Program. In 1975, John became the first Vice President of Minority Affairs [then an administrative division] at the University of Kentucky (UK). Smith was also the first African American from Kentucky to earn a doctorate from UK. He had also been director of Jefferson Community College [now Jefferson Community and Technical College] in Louisville, KY, and principal of the old Constitution School. In 1973 he was named Distinguished Citizen of Louisville. In 2005, the UK Board of Trustees approved the naming of a new residence hall in honor of Smith. John T. Smith was a brother of Kathryn Smith Stephens. For more see Fifty Years of the University of Kentucky African-American Legacy, 1949-1999; UK Inclusive Learning Community Diversity 2004-05 Annual Report, 04/28/2005, p. 2; and J. Hewlett, "John T. Smith, UK's First Vice Chancellor for Minority Affairs, Dies," Lexington Herald Leader, 07/13/1994; additional information in this entry submitted by Nelda S. Jackson. For more about the Smith family see P. Prather, "Dynasty made in heaven sons follow father's footsteps to long term ministries," Lexington Herald-Leader, 06/11/1995, Lifestyle section, p. H1.


See photo image and additional information on John T. Smith at the University of Kentucky Alumni Association website.

Access Interview

Read about the John T. Smith oral history interviews available in the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records are in the SPOKE Database.


Item Relations

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Smith, John T.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 12, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-07-19 17:51:19