Give Black, Give Back’s Changemakers Series highlights individuals who are dedicated to furthering the progress of our community by uplifting and empowering those they are committed to serving.
Reverend Dr. Kelly Miller Smith, Jr.
The Reverend Dr. Kelly Miller Smith Jr. is the proud pastor of First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, which he began serving in September 2010. He is the son of the late Reverend Dr. Kelly Miller Smith Sr. and Dr. Alice C. Smith Risby; he was born in Mound Bayou, Mississippi and reared in Nashville, Tennessee. He was licensed to preach in 1974 and in 1979; he was ordained here at First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill, during the thirty-three-year tenure of his father’s serving as pastor.
Dr. Smith received a B.A. degree in Music from Morehouse College in 1976. He later attended Morehouse School of Religion of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in 1983. In 1993, he received a Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, where he was a Proctor-Moss Fellow.
After serving for six years as pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, Dr. Smith accepted the pastorate of Mount Olive Baptist Church (Knoxville) in 1991. During his nineteen-year pastorate at Mount Olive, the church experienced tremendous spiritual, numerical, and financial growth. Among the ministries established at Mount Olive is a pre-school called the Garden of Discovery Learning Center, and a music school called The Mount Olive Music Academy.
Courtney and Ever Hale
Courtney and Ever Grey Hale established the Tia Barbour-Hale OGOT Legacy fund to honor the life of Tia Barbour-Hale. A graduate of Tennessee State University’s Occupational Therapy Program, Tia was an occupational therapist dedicated to empowering Nashville’s exceptional-needs students and their families to excel personally and intellectually through nonprofits offering customized educational programs and independently ensuring long-term success in life.
Courtney and Ever Grey Hale, founded Super Money Kids by knowledgeBANK to teach young people about financial literacy. By bridging a gap in financial education, the Hales hope to improve the lives of young people.
The inaugural Changemaker grant to Tennessee State University was made in their honor.
Dr. Paul T. Kwami
Dr. Paul T. Kwami is Musical Director and Curb-Beaman Chair of the Fisk Jubilee Singers®.
Dr. Kwami was born in Ghana, West Africa one of seven children. His father, a musician, taught him piano, violin, theory and conducting. He studied music at Ghana’s National Academy of Music and taught there until immigrating to the US in 1983 as a student at Fisk University. He promptly joined the Jubilee Singers.
After graduating from Fisk in 1985 he continued to study music at Western Michigan University. In 1994 he was solicited to serve as part-time director of the Jubilee Singers. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Kwami was promoted to full time faculty member in the music department and musical director of the Singers. He is the first African to direct the ensemble, and the first to hold the Curb-Beaman Chair position. He received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from the American Conservatory of Music.
Dr. Kwami feels a deep connection between Negro spirituals and the music of his Motherland. “The music we sing today helps to bridge the gap between Africans and African-Americans,” he says. “When my students sing, I am reminded of my life in Ghana and feel close to my past.”
The music also touches his spirit. He believes in the sovereignty of God, who was a source of faith, hope and love for slaves and for the original Jubilee Singers. “My greatest desire is to fulfill my call,” he says.
To Read How Give Black, Give Back Changemakers Grants Support Nashville’s HBCU’s:CLICK HERE
Mr. Dwight Lewis
Dwight Lewis, a graduate of Tennessee State University, is a retired award-winning reporter, columnist and editorial page editor for The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville. In 1981 he was awarded a national Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship to study at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
In November 2017, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He is the co-author of A Will to Win, which chronicles the amazing athletic history TSU, as well as contributing author to Thinking Black: Some of the Nation’s Best Black Columnists Speak Their Mind.
Mrs. Rosetta Miller-Perry
Mrs. Rosetta Miller-Perry is founder and publisher of The Tennessee Tribune and a long-time Civil Rights activist and leader. She founded the Tribune in 1992, and the paper subsequently has become the leading voice of Nashville’s African American community.
Always a trailblazer, she was among the first African-American women to integrate the University of Memphis when she completed her B.S. degree in chemistry from then Memphis State University in 1952 and was was the first female graduate from Nashville’s John A. Gupton School of Mortuary Science in 1957. Actively involved in the civil rights struggle, Miller-Perry worked closely with Z. Alexander Looby, Curley McGruder, Reverend Kelly Miller Smith and other leaders.
When Looby’s home was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan in 1960, Miller-Perry moved to Memphis. She worked closely with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She was brought into the United States Civil Rights Commission in 1960 as a clerk typist, then as a field representative. Assigned to cover the Memphis Garbage Strike in 1968, Miller-Perry witnessed the suspicious activities of the FBI, “The Invaders” and the chaos after the murder of Dr. King. Assigned to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1975, Perry became Nashville Area Director of the EEOC. She retired from government service in 1990.