Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force selects Richard Smart, III as 2022 MLK Community Service Award recipient

January 21, 2022

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The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force of Southfield selected Richard L. Smart, III, Esq.  as the recipient of the 2022 MLK Community Service Award at the Virtual Commemorative Program following the Drive for Freedom, Justice and Equity Parade on January 17.  

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force of Southfield honors one individual each year who best exemplifies the qualities of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Nominees must be committed to the advancement of human and civil rights, active in community service, and reside or work in Southfield or Lathrup Village.

“Richard L. Smart has dedicated a significant part of his life mentoring youth and giving back to his community,” according to Faira Glen, President of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc.                                                                         

“We select citizens who have dedicated their life to serving the needs of humanity in their community, or someone who has been instrumental in the advancement of human rights and civil rights of their fellow mankind,” according to Dorothy Dean, who has served as Chair of the Community Service Award Committee for the last five years. “Richard L. Smart has a distinguished legal career and a record of over 30 years of public service to the community,” Dean said.                                                                                                

Richard is a 30-year Southfield resident. He has a life-long career of dedication working with the youth of our city, the city of Detroit and Wayne County through his youth leadership programs, Smart Move, and the Kappa Alpha Psi Southfield Alumni Chapter’s Kappa Leaguers. Both of these programs have been instrumental in guiding our youth through leadership training and developing a positive self-esteem. In addition, Richard’s legal career has been dedicated to helping troubled youth and their families involved in the juvenile justice system. Richard is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Wayne State University Law School. His career has been dedicated and committed to public and community service involving our youth. In 1985, he was appointed by State Attorney General Frank Kelly to Assistant Deputy Attorney General in charge of the Detroit Office. He was the political liaison for Attorney General Kelley for five years.                                                                                                                                   

“I am humbled and honored to receive this award,” Richard L. Smart said during his acceptance speech.  “My work mentoring young people in the community is a labor of love.  I enjoy giving back to my community and lifting up our future generation of young people,” he added.                                                                                                                                                 

The first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Walk took place in Southfield, Michigan on January 20, 1986 and was founded by former Southfield Councilwoman Barbara Talley and other charter members. Talley continues to participate and guide the organization as an Advisory Board Member.  “Richard L. Smart, III is well known in Southfield for his community work, especially with involving youth and developing their self-esteem, and preparing them for their future,” Talley said. “I particularly remember his work with students at MacArthur K-8 School,” she added.        

During his ten years with the Attorney General’s Office, he worked in the Finance and Development Division and the Children’s Youth Services Division, where he represented the State of Michigan in child protection proceedings at the Lincoln Hall of Justice in Detroit.  After leaving the Attorney General’s Office in 1994, he opened a private practice and was appointed Assistant Public Administrator for Wayne County, representing children and parents in Juvenile Court. In 1997, he was appointed a Juvenile Court Referee in the Wayne County Probate Court.  As a referee, he took the bench each day to hear child abuse and neglect cases and delinquency matters in the Family Division of the Third Circuit Court.  During his 24 years with the Wayne County Juvenile Court, Richard held many leadership positions including Chief Referee.  In March 2015, Richard was elevated to the position of Deputy Court Administrator of the Juvenile Section of the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan. He was responsible for the day to day operations of Juvenile Court. He facilitated many innovative programs in his tenure, including volunteer supervised parenting time program, the creation of the Resolution Docket, and the institution of the Child and Parent Legal Representation, and Quality Legal Representation Programs.                                                                                                                                                 

For 32 years he has been a motivational speaker to young people throughout the metropolitan area, spreading his positive message of higher education and success. He created the Smart Move Leadership Training Program, mentoring to youth in Southfield Public Schools and throughout Metro Detroit. For over three decades, Richard has been a leader in the Kappa Leaguer program. The Kappa Leaguer program mentors Southfield teenage students by providing them with leadership training and prepares the students for college. The Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services selected Richard to serve on the Child Welfare Leadership Committee for the State of Michigan. In March of 2020, Richard was appointed to the Board of Directors of Brilliant Detroit. In 2021, he was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice; he will serve a three-year term.                                            

Richard has been married for over 30 years to Attorney Miriam Blank-Smart.  They raised their two adult daughters in the Ravines Subdivision in Southfield. The eldest, Danielle, is an attorney, clerking in the Federal District Court in Flint, Michigan. His youngest daughter, Rachel, is a management analyst in Fairfax, VA with ICF Corporation.    

The city of Southfield was the first city in the state of Michigan to hold a Dr. King peace walk or march. The first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Walk in Southfield took place on January 20, 1986, commemorating the first national observance of Dr. King’s birthday. The walk continues to grow in size and scope each year with year-long educational and community activities. The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Task Force, Inc. is a non-profit organization comprised of volunteers committed to advancing the principles and ideals of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For more information, call Dorothy Dean, MLK Community Service Award Chair, at (248) 790-0531 or visit www.mlktaskforcemi.org.