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Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith

Reverend Gregory Robeson Smith was born on September 22, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is the Senior Pastor of the Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Harlem, New York. His maternal grandfather, Benjamin Congleton Robeson, was very active in the local community activities of Harlem. As a child, Smith’s family history was steeped in the history of the church. In 1936, his grandfather became the pastor of Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and his uncle Paul Robeson often attended and spoke out against the discrimination that existed at the time.

In 1954, Smith earned his diploma from Dewitt Clinton High School in Bronx, New York. He received his B.A. degree in history in 1959 from Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina. Continuing his education, he received his M.B.A. degree in marketing and finance and his M.A. degree in divinity from the University of Wisconsin. He completed his education with his Ph.D. in higher education administration and finance and his Ph.D. in ministries. Smith has integrated his careers as a business executive, public activist and religious leader. He has spent over twenty years working in marketing and finance with several Fortune 500 companies.

In 1990, Smith was appointed by President George Bush as President and CEO of the African Development Foundation, an independent federal agency in Washington, D.C., with offices in twenty-five African nations. Smith continued to serve under the Clinton Administration until May 1995 when he became the Senior Pastor of the Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Harlem, New York. The church is known as the “Freedom Church” for the central role it played on the Underground Railroad. It was attended by Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman.

Smith holds positions on several boards. He is Deputy Grand Master of the Prince Hall Masons of the State of New York. Smith is President of the Prince Hall Temple Associates, Inc. and has received the distinction of being one of the Outstanding Men of America.

Smith resides in New York with is wife and family.

Smith was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 24, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.029

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/24/2007

7/10/2007

Last Name

Smith

Maker Category
Schools

DeWitt Clinton High School

The Modern School

Livingstone College

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Union Theological Seminary

United Theological Seminary

First Name

Gregory

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

SMI18

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Africa

Favorite Quote

To Whom Much Is Given, Much Is Required.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

9/22/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Turkey

Short Description

Foundation chief executive and pastor Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith (1947 - ) was the senior pastor of the Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Harlem, New York, and was appointed by President George Bush as the President and CEO of the African Development Foundation.

Employment

Joseph E. Seagram & Sons

Revlon, Inc.

Lever Brothers Company

Ogilvy & Mather Corporation

Favorite Color

Black

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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475612">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475613">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith lists his favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475614">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475615">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his maternal grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475616">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his maternal great-grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475617">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his maternal grandmother and how she met his grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475618">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes the history of African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475619">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes the history of African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475620">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes the role of Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475621">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes how his parents met</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475622">Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith remembers his uncle, Paul Robeson, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475623">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith remembers his uncle, Paul Robeson, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475624">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls when his great uncle, Paul Robeson's passport was denied</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475625">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls the political attacks on his great uncle, Paul Robeson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475626">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his meeting with Julius Nyerere</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475627">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talks about Nelson Mandela and Paul Robeson</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475628">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls his aspiration to enter the U.S. Foreign Service</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475629">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his earliest memory of racial discrimination</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475630">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his early education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475631">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls the early development of his racial identity</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475632">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Reverend Gregory Smith talks about the role of religion in his childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475633">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Reverend Gregory Smith describes his perspective on integration</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475634">Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith remembers the Bronx's DeWitt Clinton High School</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475635">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith remembers New York City's All City Chorus</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475636">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith remembers Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475637">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls New York City politician J. Raymond Jones</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475638">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Reverend Gregory Smith recalls performances at Harlem's Apollo Theater</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475639">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Reverend Gregory Smith talks about the Peg Leg Bates Country Club in Kerhonkson, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475640">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Reverend Gregory Smith recalls Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475641">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his college football career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475642">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Reverend Gregory Smith recalls coaching football at the University of Wisconsin-Madison</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475643">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith remembers being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475644">Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls his decision to pursue a business career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475645">Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls the Sterling Hall bombing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475646">Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his experiences of racial discrimination in Madison, Wisconsin</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475647">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his advertising career, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475648">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his advertising career, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475649">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Reverend Gregory Smith recalls his great uncle, Paul Robeson's stage performances</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475650">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talks about racial discrimination in theater</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475651">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Reverend Gregory Smith remembers his great uncle, Paul Robeson's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475652">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls how he became involved in African development work</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475653">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Reverend Gregory Smith describes his role at the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475654">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his political affiliations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475655">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talks about New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475656">Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls his mayoral campaign in Mount Vernon, New York</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475657">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes the founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475658">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talks about the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475659">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talk about his early aspirations</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475660">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his experiences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475661">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talks about the U.S. African Development Foundation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475662">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes the importance of African development</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475663">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his accomplishments at the U.S. African Development Foundation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475664">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his perspective on racial equality</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475665">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith reflects upon his work at the U.S. African Development Foundation</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475666">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his return to Corporate America</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475667">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talks about his relationship with Bruce Gordon</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475668">Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his role as a presiding elder</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475669">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his experiences at Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475670">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his family background in Prince Hall Freemasonry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475671">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls his doubts about the ministry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475672">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls early roles in the church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475673">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith remembers being called to the ministry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475674">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls his mentors at Union Theological Seminary</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475675">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls studying at United Theological Seminary</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475676">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his early career as a church pastor</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475677">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls becoming the pastor of Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475678">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his pastorate of Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475679">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith recalls the challenges he faced at Mother African Episcopal Zion Church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475680">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his projects at Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475681">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his role as a deputy grand master of Prince Hall Freemasonry, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475682">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his role as a deputy grand master of Prince Hall Freemasonry, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475683">Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes Prince Hall Freemasonry's community involvement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475684">Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his plans as grand master of Prince Hall Freemasonry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475685">Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes the lessons of Prince Hall Freemasonry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475686">Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talks about historically black colleges, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475687">Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talks about historically black colleges, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475688">Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talks about public education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475689">Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his HIV advocacy work</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/475690">Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his legacy</a>

DASession

2$1

DATape

5$2

DAStory

7$5

DATitle
Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith describes his accomplishments at the U.S. African Development Foundation
Reverend Dr. Gregory Smith talks about Nelson Mandela and Paul Robeson
Transcript
And I think that, the next question you'll probably ask me is what I think is the greatest achievement, or my highlight [at the U.S. African Development Foundation]. I knew that was coming. I, you know ironically it's--let me tell you two phenomenon, one phenomenon first that really came to amaze me, what I should have known. It made me think back about who we are. When during the elections, first elections in South Africa, what we noticed is that, I mean people were in lines I mean miles, old folk, young folk, I mean of age you know sitting, hot sun--$$To have an opportunity to vote (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) To vote, vote. People who had never voted in their lifetime. I mean it's an awesome scene, an awesome experience. Even myself even having experienced some of the periphery of the Civil Rights Movement. This was just a moving experience. But, then in talking with President Mandela [Nelson Mandela] and he and my uncle [Smith's maternal great uncle, Paul Robeson] corresponded for years, and that was a highlight because of their relationship and how he spoke out about his incarceration, my uncle did, when it first happened, that people expected that with the right to vote and equality, prosperity is immediate. Education--the availability of education is immediate, that they go hand in hand. But they see there's still racism, both economic and ethnic racism, and even though that in fact they had the freedom of movement, the economy was still controlled by the old guard. You know and see we think that because you vote you can be free, but that doesn't happen overnight. So, that kind of opens up your eyes as to what, think--where we are now because some of our young people think it's instant, it's instant, and that's probably what I think now of the false bottom kind of perspective that certain industries, as music and, and basketball create for our young people a false bottom of security that you can have instant prosperity and wealth and notoriety by going into this new music genre or becoming a great basketball player.$The other time was when I helped supervise the elections in South Africa on apartheid. But it wasn't so much then as to when President Mandela came to the states we had a chance to talk, and he would tell me how my uncle [Smith's maternal great uncle, Paul Robeson] communicated with him.$$How did he communicate with him (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Well, they wrote each other. Matter of fact my uncle, you know, tried to go to South Africa. You know my uncle would not--you know there are things that he, of course, you know he was against apartheid and talked about it--(unclear), but they had a, they had a great admiration or you know a love for each other, 'cause you remember President Mandela was incarcerated more than twenty years, so you know he knew of my uncle, they knew of each other, and my uncle passed away 'cause--I think '76 [1976]. So, it was just a wonderful time of talking with President Nelson Mandela. Interesting thing is, he is as tall as my uncle. I'll never forget and you'll see a picture in, in my office of he and I together. When I shook his hand 'cause Nelson Mandela had been an athlete and a boxer, he had big hands. My uncle had big hands, you know he was an athlete, he was a twelve letter man at Rutgers [Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey] and he played professional football and so forth, so he had big hands. So shaking President Mandela's hand made me think about my uncle and how his physique and so forth. So, that was a great, so when I say deja vu, those same people that I as a youngster, that I knew I would say partially about, but knew more about them as I grew more in knowledge and so forth. It was just great. And my uncle and I would have some interesting discussions about the world and where we're living and what was going on and so forth. Of course he lived, he went, you know when I got married and had children and all those things, but um-hm.$$So, when you were still (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) He even--he was a member here and he performed here many, many times.