Black history hero Homer Smith fought racism at home and Soviet propaganda abroad

Marcus Garveyite reading the OWI Office of War Information publication "Negroes and the War," April 1943.

Smith should be recognized for his principled refusal to contribute to the manipulation of the Western media by the Soviets, as well as for his struggle against racism in America.


By Ted Lipien

As a Polish American journalist and a media freedom advocate, I would like to end Black History Month by honoring an African American news reporter and writer. Homer Smith, Jr. (1909-1972) was a 20th-century fighter for freedom and human dignity who deserves to be admired and remembered by more people.

During World War II, elite Western reporters almost all repeated Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s lies about the massacre of thousands of Polish military officers and intellectual leaders who were prisoners in the Soviet Union. But Homer Smith, who at that time lived in Russia, chose not to participate in the Kremlin’s propaganda charade.

I much preferred Radio Free Europe (RFE) but ended up working for the Voice of America (VOA), because RFE was based in West Germany, whereas I went to college in Chicago. What made me realize earlier that there was no place for me in Poland was my discovery, mostly from Radio Free Europe and BBC broadcasts, that the Communist Party, its journalists, and regime-friendly teachers were all lying about the Katyn massacre.

As the Ukrainian people bravely defend themselves against the Russian aggression and disinformation war launched by Vladimir Putin, it’s a reminder that America needs more journalists like Homer Smith and Zofia Korbońska and fewer Walter Durantys and Howard Fasts.

FOR MORE SEE: Black history hero Homer Smith fought racism at home and Soviet propaganda abroad by Ted Lipien, The Washington Examiner, February 28, 2022

Photograph: New York, New York. A. Marcus Garveyite reading the OWI (Office of War Information) publication Negroes and the War, April 1943. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540, USA. OWI was the Executive Branch agency under the control of the White House. Its Overseas Division produced World War II shortwave radio broadcasts, which were later named the Voice of America (VOA).

Disclosure: Ted Lipien is one of the founders and supporters of USAGM Watch.

Ted Lipien