Paul Smith, Sr.
Civil Rights
Dates of Service: 06/1974 - 06/29/1977
Communications section (stringing wires), guard duty

He was born in Shreveport in a car on the way to the hospital at LSU Medical Center. His parents were Nathaniel Robinson and Ella Smith. The family moved from a cotton plantation south of Shreveport into the Cedar Grove area. His great grandparents, William and Cornelia Alexander, he recalls, were the heads of the household. As many as "sixteen or seventeen" persons lived in the Smith's five-bedroom home, with a family occupying each bedroom. His mother worked as a nursing home attendant, a domestic worker, and a cook at Pierremont Oaks Tennis Club. While still in high school he joined the U.S. Army as part of a delayed entry program. Soon after graduating Woodlawn High School in 1974, he entered basic training at Fort Ord near Monterey, California, in June of 1974, and received advance training in communications as a field wireman. Paul was sent to Germany, arriving in November of 1974, and was stationed at Larson Barracks at Kitzingen, Germany. "I miss a lot of those brothers. Those were the best relationships that I ever had," he says of his fellow soldiers in Germany. "I loved the experience. I loved it." Discharged on June 29, 1977 after his tour of duty ended, Paul found adjusting to civilian life, after experiencing the world, very difficult. "I come back to my home ground where these brothers had never been out of the hood," he says. Paul used the GI Bill to earn an associate degree from Southern University, and a liberal arts degree from LSU-Shreveport. He married Bobette Davenport in January of 1982, and Janice Palm on December 20, 1992. He has three children and four grandchildren. He worked as a district sales manager with The Shreverport Times. He also taught school and volunteered in mental health division of Volunteers for America for five years.