Smith, Otis W.
- Rosalyn Mitchell Patterson
pediatrician, civil rights and community activist was born Otis Wesley Smith in Atlanta, Georgia, to Ralph Horatio Smith, a baker, and Gertrude Wyche Smith, a housekeeper. Smith's early life and his decision to become a physician were greatly influenced by the untimely death of his father following complications during surgery. Young Smith prayed for his father's recovery and promised he would become a physician for Atlanta's African American community.
Smith attended Booker T. Washington High School, the first public high school for African Americans in Atlanta. In high school Smith, an avid sports enthusiast, was only allowed to participate in boxing; however, his opportunities to participate in sports flourished when he entered Morehouse College as a freshman in 1943. He majored in biology and worked part time at the Butler Street Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) where he played basketball in the afternoon with Martin Luther ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.