Nate Smith was a 1960’s civil rights activist in Pittsburgh who is best remembered for his work serving African American labor workers. He used his own body to stop bulldozers working on the U.S. Steel Tower and the Three Rivers Stadium because there were no blacks on the job. Smith’s presence was powerful. He led thousands of marchers in Pittsburgh during the black labor union protests. His efforts with U.S. Steel Tower and Three Rivers led to Mayor Joe Barr and Mayor Pete Flaherty cutting a deal with Smith’s Black Construction Coalition to hire 1,250 blacks into the construction unions over the next four years.
Smith was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1929. At age 12, he lied to serve in WWII from 1940-1942. He had dropped out of high school to serve. He and his wife Minnie, (who were married for over 60 years), had three children, Nate Jr., Renee and Sabrina.
Though he could barely read, Smith created Operation Dig in 1969, a new program that helped train disenfranchised groups with the skills they needed for labor jobs. Smith said, ” That’s my philosophy… If you live in America, you should be able to have bacon and eggs on Sunday morning. It means you can work. That you got a job.” In 1970, Smith devised the Pittsburgh Plan, a plan that helped create jobs for minorities through a collaborative effort of government, unions, and activists to ensure the inclusion of African Americans into building trade unions. He was often the target of death threats and attacks because of his aggressive and unrelenting labor equalization efforts. Smith was the victim of a drive-by shooting in which he suffered a shot to the leg. Then during a game at Three Rivers Stadium, Smith’s son was doused with gasoline and set on fire, suffering third-degree burns.
Labor union workers in Pittsburgh attribute the efforts of Smith to their success. According to the New Pittsburgh Courier, Smith helped an estimated 17,000 people get their union cards. He served as executive board member of Operation PUSH/Rainbow Coalition and was invited on several trips to Africa and the Middle East to consult with Golda Meier and Yasser Arafat on construction issues with the Reverend Jesse Jackson.
Smith appeared on the cover of Jet Magazine in 1971 and 1974 and was named among Ebony Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Black Americans. At age 75, he finally received his high school diploma.
Smith was mugged while walking to a bus stop in his neighborhood in Pittsburgh. He suffered a head injury, which led to the doctor’s discovery that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He had already been diagnosed with prostate cancer and was legally blind. With a need for constant care, his wife Minnie moved him to a nursing facility.
Nate Smith died on March 31, 2011. He was 82 years old.
(Photo: Post Gazette)
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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