The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum presents a bus tour on Monday, Feb. 16, from 9 a.m. – noon that will highlight the life and contributions of a true Renaissance man, Dr. Ezekiel Smith.
“The tour is something that will happen after we open the panel exhibit at the museum that will open on February 3,” said Bruce Daws, director of the local history museum. “It will chronicle the life of Dr. Ezekiel Ezra Smith, better known as E. E. Smith, and his role as an educator, principal, Baptist minister, soldier, statesman and businessman.”
Dr. Ezekiel Smith was born the son of free blacks in Duplin County on a farm. He received no formal education due to the laws prohibiting blacks to receive an education, but he learned from his white playmates. After the Civil War, he attended a school in Wilmington and in 1869, he moved to Wayne County and attended a school equivalent to high school while becoming a teacher himself. He became the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia and President of Fayetteville State University. E. E. Smith High School is named in his honor. He was a man of many talents. He organized and operated the Carolina Enterprise, the first newspaper in the state for blacks. In 1883, he was selected to succeed Charles W. Chestnutt as the head of Fayetteville State Normal School which is now Fayetteville State University. He was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fayetteville for six years.
The bus tour will start and end at the museum. The route entails traveling to various locations pertaining to Dr. Smith. “It will stop at the post that Dr. Smith occupied on Blount Street that is currently owned by the city of Fayetteville,” said Daws. “People will have the opportunity to go inside to get a view of it before any restoration takes place.” Daws added that participants will get to view the Orange Street School, Ashley Heights, Worth Street, Fayetteville State University, Brookside Cemetery and other locations.
“There has been a lot of searching around trying to compare 1914 and 1930 maps to current maps to try and find an address or location,” said James Greathouse, senior museum specialist. “It is interesting because we have some old writing talking about what the area looked like and I think we will be able to bring it alive.”
It takes a lot of hard work from historians to find out information about people who lived many years ago in the past. “This has been a great learning opportunity for the staff that will translate back into the community, “said Heidi Bleazey, museum specialist. “It is a huge collaboration between faculty, staff, the libraries at Fayetteville State University and Maiden Lane, the city of Fayetteville’s Community Development, Orange Street School Foundation and the Museum of the Cape Fear.” Bleazey added that the history of the area is what they do, but you feel like you are moving around uncovering and discovering something and that is exciting.
The cost of the bus tour is $3.00 per person payable on the morning of the tour. There are a limited number of seats for the bus tour and pre-registration is required. For more information call 433-1457.
Photo: Dr. Ezekiel Ezra Smith, better known as E. E. Smith.