As remembered by Maria Gitin
July 8, 2013
SCLC and Wilcox County Progressive League, community leader, pastor and activist
Rev Frank Smith was fired from his teaching position at Lower Peachtree High School immediately upon passage of the Voting Rights Act, August of 1965. The official reason provided by the Superintendent of Schools, as was the case with all of the activist teacher terminations, was low attendance in Smith s classes. There was low attendance because the students were out demonstrating for school equality. But the real reason he was fired was because he had allowed white civil rights workers to stay at his home, SNCC and SCLC to meet at his church and because his children were active in the Movement. He was blacklisted and forced out of the area to earn a living but he never gave up. It took fifteen years of legal filing, but in 1980 Smith won a back pay settlement, return to Wilcox County and was elected to the same Wilcox County Board of Education that terminated him victorious at last.
His wife, Mrs. Etta Pearl Smith (b. 7.6.1920 — d. 4.22.1999) was active as well. She housed and fed civil rights workers, supported her husband and children s activism, taught school, integrated the local laundromat and founded a library in Lower Peachtree.
All of the Smith family: Frank M. Smith, (may he rest in blessed memory), Gwendolyn Geraldine Smith, Carolyn Smith Taylor, Jesse Smith and Larry Smith keep their parents memory alive by leading exemplary lives.