For Gonzaga’s Black alumni, pioneer graduate is a living symbol of progress made and progress still to come
In 2017, the Onyx Alumni – a group of Black graduates of Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. – played the key role in the dedication of a portal leading to the football field, a gateway named for John Gabriel Smith, who in 1954 became that Catholic school’s first African American graduate.
That gateway was renamed as the “Dr. Gabe Smith 1954” portal after Gonzaga bestowed an honorary doctorate on him at its June 2021 commencement. A plaque at the portal explains that it “serves as a tribute to Gabe and an enduring symbol to young men – of all races and ethnic backgrounds – who follow in his pioneering footsteps on Eye Street.”