It was February 1961 when John B. “J.B.” Smith, Sr. became editor of the Atlanta Inquirer Newspaper. That was less than a year after the first edition rolled off the press. Smith, who started at the Inquirer while a student at Morehouse College, moved up the company ladder from advertising to owner and publisher.
Inquirer associate Editor David Stokes says he will remember Smith, who died Thursday, April 27, 2017, as being “very hands on”. Stokes says Smith was very active in “maintaining the legacy of the paper”, which was founded by students of the Civil Rights Movement. “He did not want the students to be forgotten”, says Stokes. The students included Julian Bond, and Charlayne Hunter (now Gault). Both well-known for their roles in the Movement, Bond and Hunter, worked as reporters at the Atlanta Inquirer.
In an article published online in 2010, during the paper’s 50-year celebration, Smith was quoted as saying the Inquirer “had been founded out of need”. The article, written by John B. Smith, Jr. stated “The early 1960s was a very turbulent time in this city’s history. It was the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement, and many of those involved in that Movement felt that the established Black Press only printed “safe” Black news that often edited out the truth – leaving a place for The Inquirer.”
Celebration of Life services for Smith will be held on Saturday, May 6, 2017, at 11:00 am at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. International Chapel on the Campus of Morehouse College.