News Archive

Dr. Gerald L. Smith will be the 2011 Cooper Lecturer at SCC on February 23

Dr. Gerald L. Smith, Professor at the University of Kentucky, will be the guest speaker at the 6th Annual John Sherman Cooper Lecture to be held in the Citizens National Bank Community Room of the Harold Rogers Student Commons located on the Somerset Community College Somerset Campus on Wednesday, February 23, at 2:00 p.m. Admission is free and the public is invited. Refreshments will be served before the lecture beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The lecture topic for Dr. Smith is titled Re-visiting My Old Kentucky Home: Race and Resistance in the Bluegrass State. He plans to discuss the role of Senator John Sherman Cooper as it relates to the struggle of equality in Kentucky and also examine the civil rights movement in Kentucky during the 20th century.

Dr. Gerald Smith is an associate professor of African American history and Director of the African American Studies and Research Program at the University of Kentucky. He is a native of Lexington, Kentucky and serves as pastor at Farristown Baptist Church in Berea, Kentucky.

Dr. Smith received his bachelors and masters degrees in American history from UK in 1981 and 1983, respectively. In 1988 he earned his Ph.D. in history from UK with a concentration in urban and African American history. From 1988 until 1993 he was an assistant professor at the University of Memphis. He returned to UK to join the history faculty as a tenured professor in 1993.

Dr. Smith is the author, editor or co-editor of three books. He is a volume co-editor of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Vol. Six: Advocate of Social Gospel, March 1948-September 1963 which was published in 2007 by the University of California Press. He has authored or co-authored more than thirty book reviews, essays, articles, and book chapters for historical journals and reference books. He has presented and co-presented his research at national and regional historical conferences. At present, he is researching and writing a new general history of the African American experience in Kentucky. He is also General Co-editor of the Kentucky African American Encyclopedia Project.

Dr. Smith serves on a number of different boards and committees. His awards include selection as a National Faculty Scholar, Outstanding Young Man of America Award, Who's Who Among African Americans, induction into the Martin Luther King Jr. Collegium of Scholars of Morehouse College, Real Men, Real Fathers Award from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and the Evelyn Black Award, presented by the UK Black Student Union. Dr. Smith was also inducted into the Henry Clay High School Hall of Fame in Lexington, Kentucky.

This is the 6th Annual Cooper Lecture and it is named after Somersets own, John Sherman Cooper. Cooper was born in Somerset on August 23, 1901. He graduated from public schools. He attended Centre College in Danville, but graduated from Yale College in 1923. Cooper attended Harvard Law School from 1923-1925, admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1928 and then set up his law practice in Somerset.

Cooper was elected to the Kentucky Legislature in 1928. He served as judge of Pulaski County from 1930 to 1938. Cooper was a veteran and served in World War II and rose to the rank of captain in the Army. He was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1946 and served until 1949. He was elected to the Senate a second time from 1952 to 1955. On Nov. 6, 1956 Cooper was elected a third time to the Senate and was reelected in 1960 and 1966. His Senate service ended on January 3, 1973 when he declined to run for reelection.

Cooper was also a member of the board of trustees of the University of Kentucky from 1935-1946, served as a delegate to the United Nations, and was appointed Ambassador to India, Nepal and the German Democratic Republic. He died on February 21, 1991 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

The inaugural Cooper Lecture was given by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell in August 2005. At that time McConnell said, One of the greatest senators in Kentucky history, and certainly the greatest of my adult lifetime, is John Sherman Cooper. He stood fast for what he believed was right, no matter how large the opposition or great the cost. He taught me how to be a senator. And he taught everyone who knew him the value of integrity, forthrightness, and moral character.