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)
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
1 of 31
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
3 of 31
4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
4 of 31
5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
5 of 31
6 of 31
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
19 of 31
20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
20 of 31
21. Bae #retailtherapy
21 of 31
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31