The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) has announced its honorees for the 2022 Hall of Fame Induction and Special Honors Awards. The awards were made during the #NABJNAHJ22 Convention & Career Fair in Las Vegas.
Among the names was one that you and I both surely know by now. They said Cheryl Smith, but I wasn’t sure. In the video, two young hosts introduced a sweet little old lady from East Orange, New Jersey, named Cheryl Smith.
In honesty, Cheryl Smith is a giant in the national Black press. Not just in NABJ but among NNPA publishers and Black newspapers around the country. They gave her many accolades relative to her journalistic prowess but let me tell you about the Cheryl Smith I know.
The Cheryl Smith I know raised four of her sisters’ children with all the love any child could stand while she danced backwards in heels in her professional life. She epitomized the Black mother who knows how to brace her knee against the altar while she keeps her foot on your neck. Ain’t nothing better than a Black mother who can pray for you and discipline you simultaneously.
Andre, the oldest and only male child, is in his 18th year of military service because character and accountability were something he learned at home.
The duo who introduced Cheryl knew her NABJ stories but didn’t know half of her whole story. She is a stalwart and advocate for “Buying Black.” Her closing statement hinted at it. “The last time I checked, all ice is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Let me translate that. What Cheryl was saying is don’t believe the hype. The white man’s ice is no colder than any other. But, sadly, too many of us won’t do business with people who look like us. Texas Metro News can publish it, but some of us won’t believe it until the Dallas Morning News confirms it in print.
Incidentally, “Don’t Believe the Hype” is the name of her 25-year-old Bowl-a-Thon that has raised more than a quarter million dollars. Scholarships that encourage and benefit journalism as a career.
The Cheryl Smith I know is a mentor at the highest level. Dallas Black journalism’s Grand Poohbah is Norma Adams Wade. However, Cheryl has adopted, trained, hazed, touched, or otherwise grown hundreds of budding print and video journalists.
She stated her beliefs in the acceptance speech. “The mark of a true leader is the ability to recognize, cultivate, uplift, and encourage others.” Cheryl Lynn Smith bears that mark! She did it at Paul Quinn, and Dallas College. She teaches in class or in the moment.
The Cheryl I know is a Warrior and shouted this out during her acceptance speech. Led by Commissioner John Wiley Price, Cheryl was an original Warrior who was as good at fist-fighting as she was at making picket signs. The Cheryl Smith I know stalked and printed the witness sketch of a serial rapist for seven years until he was captured, jailed, and convicted.
The Cheryl Smith I revere is never satisfied. She was pleased that my two oldest daughters matriculated at her beloved Florida A&M University. But I got a call questioning why daughter number three didn’t choose Tallahassee. Cheryl Smith was HBCU when HBCU wasn’t as cool as it is now!
Cheryl Smith paid homage to the literary heroes she read avidly during her remarks. Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and Iceberg Slim. She honored her friends who are now with her ancestors, like Dick Gregory, publisher George Curry, and a local favorite, Lawrence Young. Finally, she mentioned the man in her corner, Stewart Curet. She is sweet about him!
Cheryl Smith is an award-winning writer, publisher, radio host, professor, mother, and more. She knows, as Jesse Jackson once said, “how to be pro-Black without being anti-white.” That’s how she has been able to parlay her work and newspapers with the Dallas Morning News to create an informative collaborative.
The real Cheryl Smith came out when I tried to retire a few months ago. She only knows two curse words, and when I answered the phone, she used them both. “Negro, have you lost your mind? You betta get yo……”
That’s the Cheryl Smith I know and love. She entered my Hall of Fame years ago! I love her and Black journalists love her too.
Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and an award-winning columnist.