By: Courtney Riley, M.A.
“Thunk,” a sound often heard when an arrow hits the coveted bullseye in the sport of archery. A sound often heard by John Henry Smith. A sound that is now creating a legacy which develops a love for archery and education to youth in the Acres Home and Houston community. Archery is the practice of using a bow to shoot arrows at an inanimate target or when hunting. John Henry Smith has set out to leave a captivating imprint on the world, one person, one mark, one arrow at a time.
John Henry Smith was raised in the Acres Home area and attended Houston ISD schools including P. H. Holden and Booker T. Washington Junior and Senior High School. Smith committed his life to serving the Greater Houston area as a Senior Law Enforcement Officer for 29 years. Smith was an alumnus that created a strong legacy from his involvement in P. H. Holden and Booker T. Washington Junior and Senior High School’s rich history. Smith’s daughter, Lauren Smith Harris, eagerly described her father’s life as “exemplary and remarkable, in the sense that, his story was unique, richly filled with purpose all throughout. A legacy in the making, some may say.” Harris made sure the world knew her father’s legacy would continue by creating the John Henry Smith Foundation.
The John Henry Smith Foundation (JHSF) was started to honor John Henry Smith and his passion for education, archery and shooting sports. The foundation is committed to empowering the next generation of minority youth towards greatness through archery, education, and shooting sports. The JHSF, created by his daughter Lauren, seeks to continuously carry out the mission of the foundation through what Harris mentions as societal progression. “One of our many goals is to ensure solid student foundations are cemented in character building, compassion, education, and sportsmanship, all of which are core values John Henry stood upon his entire life, personally and professionally,” Harris mentioned. John Henry Smith competed for over 30 years in archery competitions around the nation, often being the only African American on the roster.
The JHSF held a memorial and Foundation Launch on March 26th, 2022. The celebration was attended by members of Booker T. Washington community, past and present, the Houston Police Department and Houston area elected officials who inspired attendees with discussions of the commitment John Henry Smith and the foundation would bring to the Houston area. Houston Chief of Police Troy Finner mentioned the commitment John Henry Smith made to the city through displays of integrity for others to model. Booker T. Washington Principal, Dr. Carlos Phillips, II focused his remarks on the powerful partnership of the school and foundation will bring academic and outdoor experiences that will shift the lives of the students involved. Council Member Edward Pollard of District J made attendees recognize the importance of impact you can feel and see, urging people to impact to change student trajectories. While students participated in a live archery demonstration, Houston ISD Director of Physical Education, Felica Ceaser-White, communicated the purpose and mission of the archery program, impact the program is making on student lives, and how contributions will support program efforts.
Since the John Henry Smith Foundation is designated as a nonprofit organization, monetary contributions, partnerships, and volunteering opportunities are always being sought after. Scholarships and sports training sponsorships are being offered through the JHSF commitment to their 4 core values: Character Building, Compassion, Education, and Sportsmanship. The John Henry Foundation seeks to not only support minority students academically but curate a love for the unique sports their foundation offers training for including shooting and archery. Please visit, www.jhsfoundation.org for more information on the foundation and the incredible life of John Henry Smith.
John Henry Smith accomplished an immeasurable amount of impact in his 69 years of life. Harris continued to describe her father as a “God-fearing man who made his obligation in life to create and add value to all he encountered.” His life will continue to be celebrated, and his legacy will forever make impact within the community, in the nation, and around the world. John Henry Smith. The Man. The Myth. The Legend.