Humble trailblazer reflects on his journey as Gonzaga’s first African American graduate

To many at his alma mater, Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., he is known simply as “Gabe.”

But at the June 6, 2021 commencement ceremony for the oldest boys’ school in the nation’s capital coinciding with the bicentennial of its founding in 1821, he was officially recognized as Dr. John Gabriel Smith, as the school presented an honorary doctor of humane letters degree to that member of its class of 1954 who has the distinction of being its first African American graduate.

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