J. CLAY SMITH
Class of 1960
Inducted in 1988
Dr. J. Clay Smith, Jr. was inducted into the SHSAA Hall of Fame in 1988.
Dr. J. Clay Smith, Jr. is a Director at National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and a Professor of Law at Howard University School of Law. He taught Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, and Election Law.
While at South High School, the first African American elected governor to the Cornhusker Boys State in 1960.
He is a graduate of the Howard University School of Law where he earned his J.D. degree; and the George Washington University National ... Law Center, from which he received both the Master of Law (LL.M.) and the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degrees.
Dr. Smith's career is diverse. Before joining the law faculty of Howard University, he served in the U.S. Army as a Captain in the Judge Advocate Generals Corps, as an anti-trust lawyer in the Washington, D.C. He was the first black appointed to a staff policy position in the history of the Federal Communications Commission, where he served as Deputy Chief of the Cable Television Bureau and later as Associate General Counsel. Presidents Carter and Reagan appointed him to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and as Acting Chairman of the Commission, respectively. He served on the Clinton-Gore Presidential Transition Team as a member of the Space and Communications Section.
Dr. Smith is the first black lawyer to lead a national white bar association in the nation’s history. He has served as President of the Washington Bar Association and the first black lawyer elected as National President of the Federal Bar Association.
He is the author of a one hundred year study of black lawyers. His book, Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer, 1844-1944 (University of Pennsylvania Press 1993), won the Political Science Book Award. His most recent book is Supreme Justice: The Writings and Speeches of Thurgood Marshall (University of Pennsylvania Press 2003). Dr. Smith is also the author of Rebels In Law: Voices In History Of Black Women Lawyers (University of Michigan Press 1998), the seminal book on black women lawyers.
Dr. Smith passed away February 2018 at the age of 76.