Walking in His Purpose. Read JB’s Story.

“I am not supposed to be here.

I did not fully understand why my father and other family members would always find ways to mention me and the things that I was attempting to accomplish to everyone they encountered. Today, it hit me.

 I am not supposed to be here.

My father grew up on Mr. HM Haney’s plantation in Jonestown, Mississippi. Oftentimes, he would miss or be late to class because he had to pick cotton. My mother’s circumstances were not much better. She grew up in the Fowler Home Housing Projects in Memphis, TN. I am the child of two individuals who grew up extremely poor.

I am not supposed to be here.

However, my parents saw a future that did not include poverty for themselves or their children. 

On May 16, 2015 when I received my Juris Doctor, it was not for myself but for my parents who did everything they could to put me in a position to succeed. I am forever grateful for the wisdom my parents demonstrated by putting me in a position to succeed. I went on to start my law practice, Smiley & Associates, PLLC. I am currently licensed to practice law in Arkansas, Tennessee and I am in the process of receiving my law license in Mississippi.

But I still understand…

I am not supposed to be here.

God continued to position me in places that I never imagined. I have been blessed to serve as Judicial Council for the Young Democrats of America (“YDA”), Vice Chairman of the Black Caucus of the Young Democrats of America and Vice President of the Shelby County Young Democrats. In 2018, I was named to Memphis Flyer’s Top 20 under 30 class. During that same year, I was appointed policy advisor to the Shelby County Clerk. I served in that capacity until my election to the Memphis City Council on October 3, 2019.

I am now more certain than ever that a man with my upbringing is not supposed to be here.

I am the son of a man who learned to read by moonlight and now the vision of my namesake is lighting my path. In just two generations, so many things have changed. My prayer is that I can continue to surprise myself by walking in my purpose.

Although statistics would tell you I am not supposed to be here, I strive to blaze a trail for those like me, who they say are not supposed to be here.”