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Jeff Shantz

activist, was born LeRoy Wesley Smith in St. Louis, Missouri, to Vernice and Sylvester Smith. His family included three brothers and a sister. Smith's experiences growing up in a working-class family, enduring many hardships, and deprivations as a child, developed within him a lifelong commitment to improving living conditions for those in poverty.

Smith came to activism in 1969, while still in high school. During a field trip to Cairo, Illinois, at the age of seventeen, he toured African American neighborhoods where white supremacists had recently opened fire on several houses, and attended a Black Solidarity Day rally where he listened to speeches by Amiri Baraka, Nina Simone, Jesse Jackson, and Julian Bond As a first year student at St John s University in Minnesota he led an occupation of the school s administrative offices to demand a black studies program Expressing his ...