by Shawn Nowlin Anthony Smith was recognized as this year’s Whitney M. Young recipient at the Annual Blue Ridge Mountain Council Boy Scouts of America Award Celebration Dinner on June 16. Coach Millard Bolden, last year’s honoree, presented Smith with the award.
In 1961, when he was 40, Whitney Young became the Executive Director of the National Urban League (NUL). The organization grew from 60 chapters to 96 under his leadership. Still advocating today on behalf of social and economic justice for African Americans, the NUL currently has more than 90 affiliates serving 300 communities in 37 states.
The event attracted various community leaders and residents from the community. After a reception and dinner, the presentation of Smith commenced. Several sponsors were key to making the occasion possible: Judie and Lucas Snipes, First Citizens Bank, Whit and Lauren Ellerman, Sherman Lea Jr., Blue Ridge Towers, Steve Rossi and 21st Century Program.
“I’m sure you are aware that we have had a number of changes in scouting over the last couple of years. What has not changed is the smell of woodsmoke, scouts around campfires developing leadership skills and increasing the self-confidence of our young people,” Council Training Chair Andre Perry said to all in attendance. “Remember what the mission of the Boys Scouts is: to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”
In his opening remarks, Smith spoke to the atmosphere in the room, saying, “I’m very happy this is an intimate setting because we can have an intimate conversation.”
He added, “The Boy Scouts is one of the greatest youth organizations in the country so it’s a great honor to be recognized. I’m a workhorse. I see problems in the community, and they need fixing. I don’t want to be the guy in the shiny suit that walks in looking for attention. I’m the guy that wants to muscle up the right people and fix the problem. Tonight’s problem is getting our youth to you guys. With the firepower that I have, along with some friends not here today, we are going to help get some kids and some money to this organization.”
Smith has more than 25 years of experience of project management. Born in Roanoke, he graduated from William Fleming High School in 1993. Smith furthered his education at Virginia Union University. Weeks after earning his college degree, he began his career in real estate. While serving as the youngest ever director of real estate at the Richmond Development and Housing Authority, he was instrumental in the revitalization of sections throughout the state’s capital. When Smith formed Blue Ridge Towers, Inc. a few years later, he became the only African American in the country with a privately-owned tower. Smith and his wife Nicole have four children: son Robert and daughters Shaquanna, Laila and Lauryn.