Local News

Wilson Historical Marker Will Honor Boundary-Breaking Man

Posted February 26, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST

— A man who broke through racial boundaries after the Civil War is being honored more than 70 years after his death.

The Rev. Owen Smith was a former slave, a pastor, an attorney, an ambassador to Liberia in 1898. Even with those accomplishments, many people have never heard of the Wilson man -- until now.

The state will soon put up an historical marker in Smith's honor. It will be placed in front of the church he led 100 years ago.

"We want the city to know that they did have an individual who made some great contributions," said William Neill, who now pastors Smith's church. "We want our church, as a denomination, to know that we had that caliber person."

The state budget crunch has delayed progress on the $1,200 marker's installation, which will not be placed for at least several months.