Thousands of African-Americans are graduates of the University of Louisiana at Monroe, but in 1967 all eyes in the state were on one African-American, Donald W. Smith; he was the University’s first African-American graduate.
Dr. Donald Wayne Smith died Monday, September 9, 2019. Services will be held at Miller Funeral Home Chapel Saturday, September 14, 2019 11:30 AM.
After four years in the United States Marines from 1960-1963, he returned to Monroe. He was among the first blacks to enroll at Northeast University, which was then called “Northeast Louisiana State College.”
Dr. Smith was not the first Black to attend ULM, but he was the first African-American to receive a degree from the formerly all-white university in 1967. The first blacks integrated ULM in 1964, Sarah Louise McCoy and Bobby Saucer, and a slow trickle of black students enrolled at the university.
During his early years at ULM, classes were often hostile to Blacks and KA fraternity marched around campus in “Old South” Confederate uniforms. Despite the hostile conditions, Dr. Smith was an honor student who kept his eye on the prize.
When Dr. Smith graduated from ULM the University had low expectations of its first African-American students, but his scholarship and personal discipline helped change that opinion and made it easier for all those who followed.
He opened the floodgate and thousands have followed since. He continued at ULM and earned a Master’s Degree in 1972 and an Education Specialist in 1978. He earned a doctorate in Education in 1995 from Grambling State University.
He was the assistant principal of Carroll High School from 1987-to 1996.
He was the principal of Wossman High school from 1996-2000.
Visitation is Saturday (day of service) 10AM -11:30AM.
Burial at Mulhern Memorial Park.