Rev. Joseph A.C. Smith: Minister, Musician, Community-Builder

Growing up in historic Natchez, Mississippi, Joseph A.C. Smith (B.M. Ed. ’06; M.Div. ’10) has always been interested and invested in the plight of the African-American community. That yearning to know more and help more led him to Howard University.

“Growing up in Mississippi, whenever I heard anyone mention Black success or academic excellence, Howard University was always part of the conversation,” Smith explained. “From what I could tell, Howard was the place where the best and brightest of our community studied—really a leadership making machine. I wanted to be well trained, so I came to Howard.”

Smith’s commitment to Black success and academic excellence does not start and end with him. After graduating summa cum laude in 2006, and at the top of his Divinity class in 2010, he decided to make the Nation’s Capital home. He founded Joseph A.C. Smith Ministries and currently serves as the assistant to the pastor at Alfred Street Baptist Church, one of the oldest and most prominent African-American congregations in the area. He reaped the rewards of his work with Alfred Street Baptist Church pastor, Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley, when he traveled to this year’s NAACP Image Awards to witness Dr. Wesley receive the prestigious Chairman’s Image award.

‘Helping people to lead better lives’

Smith’s success and residential boundaries have not limited his devotion to his home state. He has started programs in Mississippi to uplift and encourage the youth. In 2006, Mayor Philip West named Smith Outstanding Citizen of Natchez.  Additionally, in his own area, he volunteers as a mentor and advisor to youth offenders at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center and is an executive board member of Next Generation Leaders of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

“I love helping people to lead better lives,” Smith said. “I often say ‘my destiny in life is helping other people reach theirs’. Having grown up in the poverty stricken Mississippi, in a single-family household that was deeply religious, I was exposed to a brand of religion that made you feel good but didn't always help you to live a better life.”

This declaration of his destiny inspired Smith to create a daily morning motivation broadcast on Periscope, called “The Morning Hype,” which starts off with prayer, praise and positivity. In less than a year, his audience has grown to 3,500.

“I'm blessed to be able to help embrace spiritual disciplines that not only honor who God is, but that improve every aspect of people's lives—from health, to relationships, to achieving their God-given dreams.”

‘Passion for the arts’

Smith’s intellect and passion for service is equally matched with his many talents. As an accomplished musician and vocalist, Smith has performed for renowned audiences all over the world. He particularly notes his performances at the Kennedy Center Honors; Bobby Jones Gospel; the International Conservatoire Week in St. Petersburg, Russia; and memorials services for Ossie Davis, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm and Clyde Bailey as memorable. One of his proudest moments came in 2008, when he sang his rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” while sharing the stage with President Barack Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Awards Dinner. 

This wouldn’t be the last time he was in the presence of exceptional company. Recently, the First Family visited his church for Easter and he was able to engage in conversation with the Obamas. 

“Only thing second to that would be standing on the Edmond Pettus Bridge during the commemoration of Bloody Sunday and having Congressman John Lewis call me from the back of a crowd of thousands of people to cover a prayer at the apex of the bridge,” Smith said. “It was nerve racking, but it was probably one of the most humbling experience I’ve had in my life.”

Smith’s front seat in present-day civil rights history, coupled with his dedication to improving the lives of others is a shining example of what it means to be a son of Howard University.

 

Twitter: @RevJosephAC

Instagram: Joeyacs

Periscope: RevJosephAC

Website: josephacsmith.com

 

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