Gerald L. Smith

glsmit01's picture
  • Professor
  • African American and Africana Studies
  • History
  • Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies
1773 Patterson Office Tower
Research Interests:

Ph.D., University of  Kentucky, 1988

Office Hours

 Spring 2021 Virtual Office Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday 1:30-3:00 and by appointment


Gerald L. Smith is a native of Lexington, Kentucky. He earned his B.A, M.A., and Ph. D degrees from the University of Kentucky in history. He taught at the University of Memphis from 1988-1993. He is a full professor of history and  a former holder of both  the Theodore A. Hallam Professorship and  the  Martin Luther King Center Scholar-in Residence  at the University of Kentucky. From 1997-2005, he served as the director of the African American Studies and Research Program at UK. He  is  the former pastor of the Farristown Baptist Church in Berea, Kentucky and now serves as  pastor  of  the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.

Dr. Smith is the author, editor, or co-editor of four books. He has more than  forty articles, essays, and book reviews published in historical journals and encyclopedias. He has served as a keynote speaker for  numerous programs, consulted on various historical projects, lectured on college campuses, and conducted workshops for primary and secondary school teachers. He has  appeared in historical documentaries which have aired on CBS, NBC, KET, the CBS Sports Network, and TruTV.  Dr. Smith is co-editor of the award winning Kentucky African American Encyclopedia which was recognized with  the Kentucky Archives Month Certificate for Merit for Writing/Publication. It was the Thomas D. Clark Medallion Book in 2015 and awarded the Kentucky Historical Society Publication Award in 2016. Choice described the book as a "brilliant compilation."

Professor Smith is currently working on three  projects that are under  contract: a  general history of Kentucky African Americans,  an edited collection of essays titled: "(Re)-visiting My Old Kentucky Home: Slavery and Freedom in the Bluegrass State", and   co-editor of a book series on race and sports.  Over the years, he has served on many different boards and committees. He is the former Chair of the Kentucky African American Heritage Commission. He serves on the Kentucky Historical Society Governing  Board. In June 2020, he was appointed by the mayor of Lexington to serve as Co-chair of the Commission for Racial Justice and Equality in Fayette County. The Commission's final report was formally submitted to Mayor Linda Gorton on October 23, 2020. He is currently hosting a radio series on "Racial Justice and Equality" on  the Eastern Standard, 88.9 FM ( NPR for Central and Eastern Kentucky).

His awards include: selection as a National Faculty Scholar (1997); Who’s Who Among African Americans (2000);  induction into the Martin Luther King Jr. Collegium of Scholars of Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia ( March 2000), and  the Evelyn Black Award from the UK Black Student Union (2005, 2017). He is a 2006  inductee into the Henry Clay High School Hall of Fame in Lexington, Kentucky;  recipient of the 2011 Richard H. Collins Award from the Kentucky Historical Society, and, one of six professors on campus chosen by the UK Alumni Association to receive the 2013 Great Teacher Award. In 2014 the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Personnel Cabinet presented him with the annual Charles W. Anderson Laureate (Medal) Award, its highest award given to individuals recognized for significant contributions to equal opportunity in their communities. He received the Racial Reconciliation Award  (2015) and The Kente Cloth Award (2017) from Campbellsville University. He was named a recipient of the 2016 Living Legacy Award by the Kentucky Black Legislative Caucus during the 13th annual Black History Month Celebration  at the  Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort. He was recognized as the Outstanding Professor by Fraternity and Sorority Greek Life at UK in 2017. He was awarded the 2018 University of Kentucky Inclusive Excellence Award and the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Service and Engagement Award. In 2019, he was inducted into the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.  

 He is married to the former Teresa Turner. They are the parents of two daughters.


Current Research: A monograph on Kentucky African American History from the frontier years to the present.

Courses Taught:

Senior Seminar for History Majors

The History of Kentucky

Kentucky African American Experience

The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.;

Sports, Business, and Politics 

Race and Sports in America

The Civil Rights Movement in the US Since 1930

African American Urban History,

Race Relations

Readings in African American History since 1865



Current Students

  • LeDatta Grimes
  • David Lai
Selected Publications: 

Selected Articles:


Enter your linkblue username.
Enter your linkblue password.
Secure Login

This login is SSL protected