Samuel J. Smith

Samuel J. Smith Sam Smith's political journey began in Louisiana when he was 10 years old. Listening to political conventions and speeches broadcast on radio in the early 1930s, he was quickly captivated by Franklin D. Roosevelt. By the time he was 14, he had made up his mind seek out a place to serve as an elected official. World War II brought Sam to Seattle, where he settled and began his climb to political prominence. In 1958, Sam Smith was successfully elected to the state House of Representatives in Seattle's Thirty-seventh District, where he served five consecutive terms. After achieving his goal of passing a state open housing law in 1967, Smith left the state legislature and became the first black person elected to the Seattle City Council. Smith served on the city council for 24 years, eight of those as president of the council. Observers of the city council described his presidency as a breath of fresh air into the council, opening up Seattle to a more progressive era.

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Click on the links below to see photographs from Samuel J. Smith: An Oral History.