Independent Historian

William “Duke” Smither is a Historical Novelist, U.S. Navy Veteran (Viet Nam Era, Cuban Missile Crisis, Cuban Expeditionary Forces), native of Frankfort, Kentucky, resident of Richmond, Virginia, and retired Sr. Security Investigator for Dominion Energy, Inc.

A former Sports Reporter for his college newspaper, as a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and Reporter/ trainee at the Richmond Afro-American newspaper, he later graduated from St. Paul’s College (B.S. Business Management), returning to VCU for postgraduate studies in Criminal Justice Administration during his working career, along with independent study programs in Black History (J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College) and Ancient African History (Virginia State University).

In retirement, additional research and writings led to the history-related journal he created at www.backstreetdjeli.com, and assignments as contributing writer for BlackPast.Org, the international web-based reference center for African-American History, at www.blackpast.org. He also began writing his historical-fiction trilogy on Western Hemispheric marronage and resistance to European colonialism and slavery.

His debut novel, Backroads to ‘Bethlehem’: Odysseys of the Maroon Warrior… (2018) was the trilogy’s first installment. Passage(s) to Saint-Domingue: Jakobe’s Journey… (2022) is the sequel. The third book, Children of the Swamp (working title only) is underway, pending completion. His current website is: https://authorwilliamsmither.com/.

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)

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)