Shanelle Smith

Educator

Where were you born and raised?
Kansas City, Missouri.

What is your occupation?
Educator.

What is your favorite childhood memory?
Any time spent on the Metro with my mom.

What does Black History Month mean to you?
A celebration of all the greatness that African-Americans have contributed and continue to provide this nation.

What do you believe is the most important issue currently facing the Black community?
Respect and recognition as human beings.

When did you realize you were Black in America and what has that meant for your life?
From birth, My parents were intentional to ensure that I knew my racial identity and the beauty therein. My father used to make me read from the Black Almanac on my weekends with him and always imparted, "The stuff they didn't teach me at school." My mother, who was very fair skinned, always complimented my beautiful brown skin. She made sure I had toys and dolls that looked like me, and had me watch documentaries on famous Black Americans or read literature written by famous Black authors.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration to push for change?
Historically Black Colleges and Universities are my biggest inspiration to push for change. My experience at Fisk University changed my life. Being from the urban core of KCMO, I know what a difference my HBCU made for me, so I want other youth from underserved communities to know that they exist and they might indeed be a better fit for them to pursue their college dreams.

How have you supported or contributed to the local Black community?
I have been an educator in the urban core for over 15 years I founded HBCU Walking Billboard. I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. If it is Black-owned, I'm there.

Your home for the Tokyo Olympics!