First book published

Published 9:29 pm Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Dear Editor,

To help celebrate Black History Month this year, I would like to make you aware of the accomplishments of one of our own and his sister. 

I have not met his sister, Ann M. Smith, but she and her brother, my friend, Earnest James Smith, are to be congratulated for publishing their first book in 2018. 

The title of the book is “A Poor Family’s Struggle with Poverty and How They Survived.”  

Earnest and Ann and their family are Selma natives. 

The book describes life in East Selma, near the rendering plant, beginning in the early 1960s. 

It details how their family struggled with poverty, but always had a dependence on God and, though their lives were full of hardships, “…with love for one another and unfailing faith, they made a better life for themselves.” 

They took no handouts, even refused food stamps when they were first issued in the area. They sought to depend on their God to supply their need as He has promised. 

They worked and helped each other, sometimes going out of town, even to New York to find jobs. Earnest and I met when I worked at the Vaughn Regional Medical Center in 2002. 

Earnest works in Environmental Services there and has for years. 

It is reported the hospital will miss him terribly when he is not working there any more (may be close to retirement) due to his great spirit. 

One of the doctors who know him said he was always so upbeat and positive.  He was a pleasant soul with whom to work, always serious about his work I remember. 

Earnest and I became reacquainted in 2015, meeting at the library to present things we had written.  Two other ones there that day should also be celebrated for what they bring to our area. 

They are Afriye WeKandodis and Letha Dillard, both of whom bring the spoken word, peace, love, and understanding to Selma. 

Afriye started a Writer’s Group that summer and Earnest, Letha and I and others attended.  Earnest was talking about writing a book, having his stories published. So, when Earnest phoned me last month and reported about he and Ann coauthoring this book, I was thrilled for them. 

It is a true accomplishment of a life’s dream for one who has come from his background. 

A quote in the book by Michel de Montaigne, a French Philosopher says, “Poverty of goods is easily cured; poverty of the mind is irreparable.” 

Though this family had not many goods at all, their minds were not poor, knowing God’s Word and promises did make them stand tall, has carried them far. 

On the front of the book is a picture of Earnest and Ann in front of the house their family came to own just north of Selma. 

His never give up mindset carried Earnest through 17 years of GED classes and 29 tries before passing the GED, but he did it proudly.  I am so proud of this friend and fellow writer for what he has done and what he means to so many. 

Congratulations Earnest and Ann Smith. 

We honor you two as local heroes always!                                                                                   

Gail Box Ingram

Valley Grande