Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, is currently constructing s $115 million residence hall project that will include two buildings, each with two separate halls of rooms. Each building will have space for about 330 students.
One of the halls is being named to honor Kelly Miller Smith (1920-1984), an author, minister, and civil rights activist. A native of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and music from Morehouse College and a master’s degree from the Howard University Divinity School.
Smith moved the Nashville in 1951 to become pastor of the First Baptist Church. He remained in that post until his death 33 years later. In 1956, Smith became president of the Nashville chapter of the NAACP and was active in the civil rights movement in the city.
From 1968 to 1984, Smith was assistant dean of the Vanderbilt Divinity School. His papers are housed in the special collections unit of the Vanderbilt University Library. The university previously honored its former assistant dean by establishing the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies on the Vanderbilt campus.