Smith uses his voice to inspire change in his community


Hope McClew

Will Smith (12) stands on a street corner holding up a sign to promote a White Station food drive. As head of the school’s service committee, this is just one of many drives he has organized.

Some students see making a change as an impossible feat. Will Smith (12), however, has made serving his community and changing it for the better a priority in his life. As the founder of the Black Poetry Club, the creator of Memphis Youth Voices and the head of the student council service committee, Smith has a lot on his plate, but for him, helping others makes it well worth the effort. 

Big changes start small, and Smith was not always as willing to speak his mind. This changed in the summer of 2020 after the death of George Floyd. This tragic event inspired him to amplify his own voice and the voices of other young people by creating Memphis Youth Voices, an Instagram account centered around spreading information about service projects and magnifying youth voices and  involvement in the community. 

“After the death of George Floyd, I wanted to amplify my voice in a way,” Smith said. “And I figured that by creating this and by getting a bunch of young people together, we could really amplify our voices and really push for change in our community.”

A desire for change also inspired him to found the Black Poetry Club, an organization devoted to promoting and analyzing poetry from black poets, an often underrepresented group in literature. 

“I was looking through the books we read in school, and I noticed that not many of them are written by black authors or tell the perspectives of black people in general throughout history,” Smith said. “So I figured that by creating this club and getting people together to talk about and analyze black poetry, we could bridge some of the gaps that we experience.”

Another way that Smith helps his community is through his role as head of the student council service committee. As head of the service committee, he organizes service events around school, such as food and donation drives. While the past year was difficult due to COVID-19, Smith says that he was impressed by the amount of student involvement he saw. 

“I’m really inspired by the drive of the underclassmen,” Smith said. “I really feel as though they have the potential to drastically impact their community. They’re hard working people who really love their city … They’re really passionate about it.”

Although he will not continue working with these clubs after graduation, Smith has high hopes for the future of these organizations.

“I really hope that [students] can get involved with more community service activities, and I hope that they can really expand their impact on others,” Smith said. “When you reach out to organizations and shelters and they hear White Station, I really want them to think of these dedicated passionate students who are willing to serve their community.”

He also encourages students to get involved and speak up for what they know is right, a lesson he learned from years of feeling afraid to act. 

“Don’t let your fear of looking stupid hold you back, and don’t let how other people see you prevent you from reaching your true potential,” Smith said.