Oakland pastor to be honored by lawmakers

J. Alfred Smith Sr. book cover

J. Alfred Smith Sr., 78, of Rodeo, pastor emeritus of Oakland’s Allen Temple Baptist Church, will be the keynote speaker and special honoree at the California Legislative Black Caucus’ 2nd Annual King Legacy Breakfast on Thursday morning at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.

Assemblyman Sandré Swanson, D-Alameda, who chairs the caucus, said the event aims to formally recognize the commitments and extensive contributions of several honorees exemplifying the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Attendees will include members of the Legislature, some of California’s constitutional officers and various other dignitaries; Assembly Speaker-elect John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, is scheduled to make opening remarks on the significance of King’s legacy and its relevance during these tough economic times.

Swanson’s office says Smith has written and edited dozens of books and articles on theology and encouraging equal justice through prophetic work; he holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley and a Master’s of Theology from the American Baptist Seminary of the West in Berkeley, where he now serves as a professor of Preaching and Church Ministries. After Thursday’s breakfast, he’ll be honored with an Assembly resolution commending his commitment to social justice and equality for all.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Has anybody outside Alameda county ever heard of this pastor?

  • Josh Richman

    Yep. Per his Web site: Smith in two consecutive years was one of Ebony Magazine’s Most Influential Black Americans, and was among the magazine’s Top 15 Greatest Black Preachers of 1993. He testified before the United Nations against South African apartheid in 1989; he lectured at Oxford in 2004; Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named him to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors in 2007; and, within his own denomination, he’s a past president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention and of the American Baptist Churches of the West.