Independent Historian

William “Duke” Smither is a U.S. Navy Veteran (Radarman 2nd Class, E-5, Cuban Missile Crises & Vietnam Era), native of Frankfort, Kentucky, resident of Richmond, Virginia, and retired Sr. Corporate Security Investigator for Dominion Resources, Inc. (Virginia Power).  Formerly, a reporter for the weekly Richmond Afro-American newspaper, while attending Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) as a Journalism major, freelance writing was always on his ‘bucket list’ of things to do, during his working career, as well as in retirement.

Within the last 10 of his 28 years at Dominion, he remained active in local, community theater productions as actor and writer, then playwright and director in retirement, for plays within the scope of Afrocentric perspectives and socio-political commentary. However, his writing and research passion lies primarily within western hemispheric slave rebellions and runaway slave communities.

With the help of his devoted wife (Sharon) in raising three kids, working rotating shifts and attending evening college studies, he later graduated with a B.S. in Organizational Management from St. Paul’s College Lawrenceville, Virginia. Postgraduate studies included Criminal Justice Administration at Virginia Commonwealth University and Ancient African History at Virginia State University. Independent studies in Black History were also completed as an undergrad.

His future plans include expanding history-connected travel and writing activities, as well as publishing related novels, culled from historical research and life perspectives. He’s the founder and writer of a history-related website and occasionally performs dramatic storytelling monologues, namely “to share the many ‘missing pages,’ from our classroom history books within the unique stories, legacies and contributions of our ancestors.”

Katherine Goble Johnson (1918-2020)

Katherine Goble Johnson, heralded as the first African American woman in Aerospace Engineering, was born on August 26, 1918, in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, a city where schooling for “colored” people ended with the eighth grade. In 1937, she graduated summa cum laude (with … Read MoreKatherine Goble Johnson (1918-2020)

George Cleveland Hall (1864-1930)

Dr. George Cleveland Hall, Chicago, Illinois African American physician and humanitarian was born on February 22, 1864, to John Ward Hall, a Baptist minister, and Romelia Buck Hall in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Dr. Hall eventually rose to head the Chicago Urban League and became vice-president of … Read MoreGeorge Cleveland Hall (1864-1930)

Raymond Harold/ “Ray” Boone Sr. (1938-2014)

Prominent Virginia journalist Ray Boone Sr. was born February 2, 1938, in Suffolk, Virginia.  His parents, foreign-born Japanese father, Tsujiro Miyanski, and mother, Leathia M. Boone, of mixed African and Native American descent, were banned from marrying in Virginia because of their different races. Yet … Read MoreRaymond Harold/ “Ray” Boone Sr. (1938-2014)

Robert L. Woodson Sr. (1937– )

Born into poverty on April 8, 1937, in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Robert L. Woodson Sr. is often described as the “godfather” of the movement to empower community-based organizations to help themselves. Widely known as a leading black conservative, Woodson rose from liberal-oriented neighborhood civil rights … Read MoreRobert L. Woodson Sr. (1937– )

John Robert Thompson Jr. (1941-2020)

Born in Washington, D.C. on September 2, 1941, legendary basketball coach-emeritus John Thompson Jr., arose from segregated public-housing and asphalt playground-courts to the polished hardwoods of collegiate and professional basketball, becoming the first African American head coach — in any major college sport– to win … Read MoreJohn Robert Thompson Jr. (1941-2020)

John Wendell Thompson (1949– )

“Image Ownership: Public Domain” Born April 24, 1949, to working-class parents in Fort Dix, New Jersey, John Wendell Thompson climbed the high-tech world’s business ranks from entry level sales to executive positions at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and Symantec Corporation for a combined forty … Read MoreJohn Wendell Thompson (1949– )

The Bordentown School (1886-1955)

The “Bordentown School,” founded in 1886 in Bordentown, New Jersey, began as a self-sustaining, co-educational, vocational school in a two-story residence in Bordentown, New Jersey. Originally established as a private institution by Rev. Walter A. Rice, a college-educated former slave and minister with the African … Read MoreThe Bordentown School (1886-1955)

Thomas Fuller (1710-1790)

Thomas Fuller, often called “the Virginia Calculator,” was born in 1710, somewhere between the “Slave Coast” of West Africa (present-day Liberia) and the Kingdom of Dahomey (modern-day Benin). When the pre-colonial scramble for slaves replaced the earlier trade in gold, Fuller was snatched from his … Read MoreThomas Fuller (1710-1790)