Journalist and publisher Cheryl Lynn Smith was born on June 20, 1958 in Newark, New Jersey to Joseph Smith and Earline Gadson. Smith attended public elementary schools in Newark and East Orange, New Jersey, and graduated from East Orange High School in 1976. She received her B.S. degree in journalism from Florida A&M University in 1980, and her M.S. degree in human relations and business from Amberton University in Dallas, Texas in 1986.
In 1980, Smith was hired as editor for Capital Outlook News in Tallahassee, Florida. From 1981 to 1984, she worked as a production coordinator for TV Watch in Dallas, Texas and JC Penney Life Insurance Company in Richardson, Texas. In 1987, Smith was hired at The Dallas Weekly, where she served as a staff writer, executive editor, editor-in-chief and columnist. Smith also worked for five years for Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price. From 1997 to 2000, she served as executive editor of Future Speak, a weekly newspaper produced by Dallas area high school and college students for the Dallas Examiner newspaper.
Smith worked as a producer and talk show host at KKDA-AM from 1990 until 2012, and as a show host of PAX-TV’s “The Ester Davis Show” from 2010 to 2012. She was also the host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Cheryl’s World,” and cable television’s “On the Dotted Line.” In 2011, Smith founded I Messenger Enterprises, where she serves as publisher and editor of I Messenger, The Garland Journal and Texas Metro News. In addition, she was an associate professor at Paul Quinn College from 1999 to 2010, and an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas from 2002 to 2009.
Smith has served as the president of the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Journalists and the Dallas-Fort Worth Florida A&M University National Alumni Association. She was a two-term National Association of Black Journalists regional director, and has served as president of the Dallas-Metroplex Council of Black Alumni Associations. In 1994, she became the first African American and female to chair the North Texas Health Facilities Corporation. Smith has also served on the boards of the Dallas Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Irving Cares and the Leslie K. Bedford Foundation. In 1995, she established the Don’t Believe the Hype Foundation.
Smith has won numerous awards, including the Messenger Award from National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Journalism Excellence Award from The Dallas Examiner, the Outstanding Journalist Award from Elite News, the Barry Bingham Sr. Award from the National Conference of Editorial Writers, as well as multiple awards from the Texas Publishers Association, the NNPA, the NAACP, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Communicators. The National Civil Rights Museum awarded her the “Invisible Giant” Award, and in 2005, the Omicron Mu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. presented her with the “Image Award.” In 2009, Smith was honored by the Journalism Educator’s Association. She also received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the Dallas-Metroplex Council of Black Alumni Associations and Woman of the Year award from the Women Empowering Women Foundation.
Since 1992, Smith has been raising her nephew and three nieces: Andre, Alayna, Annya and Ayanna.
Cheryl Smith was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 7, 2014.