Harry C. Smith
Portrait of Harry C. Smith (1863-1941), a representative from Cuyahoga County, from his term in the 71st session of the Ohio House of Representatives, 1894-1895. He also served in the 72nd session, 1896-1897, and 74th session, 1900-1901.
Harry C. Smith was an African American journalist, publisher and legislator from Cleveland, Ohio in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Smith was born on January 28, 1863. In 1883, Smith, with several partners, founded The Cleveland Gazette newspaper. In 1886, he purchased the paper from his associates. Smith remained as the paper's owner and editor until his death, more than fifty years later.
Smith used The Cleveland Gazette to champion civil rights issues in Ohio and as a springboard into politics. In 1892, Cleveland-area voters elected Smith to the Ohio legislature. He served three consecutive terms, from 1893 to 1899. During his time in office, Smith continued to lobby the state government to do more to protect the civil rights of African Americans. He introduced the Smith Act in the Ohio House of Representatives and succeeded in gaining its passage. The Smith Act was one of the strictest anti-lynching laws in the United States of America at the time, and it served as a model for other states. Smith also was a driving force behind the passage of the Ohio Civil Rights Law of 1894.
Following his service as an Ohio legislator, Smith returned to Cleveland and continued to publish The Cleveland Gazette. He did not remain away from politics. During the 1920s, Smith sought the Republican Party's nomination for Ohio governor and Ohio Secretary of State. Smith failed to attain the nomination in each case. He died on December 10, 1941.