Hidden Figure: Angela Thomas Smith


Hidden Figure: Angela Thomas Smith

Crystal: Tell me something about yourself? 

Angela: I’m Angela Thomas Smith and I reside in Anderson, SC. I am the Co-Founder of Pushing Grace Networking Group & Community Gateway Center where our mission is “BUILDING STRONG HEALTHY FAMILIES thru THE ULTIMATE E3EXPERIENCE” (educational, empowerment, & encouragement); Founder/CEO of Placed With a Purpose Ministries home of the Sister/Friend Empowerment Conference, LLC (live, love & care) where our mission is to help other discover their purpose in life thru Christ based on Jeremiah 29:11; and Co-Founder/Director of African-American Authors Literacy Awareness Campaign whose mission is to bring awareness to African-American authors & literacy as we tour the world sharing authors’ books and testimonies. Pushing Grace’s ultimate goal is to collaborate and network with others to share the good news that God is still performing miracles and he’s yet alive and working through us. Our testimonies prove just that. I would be all day telling my stories. You name it, I’ve endured it. From losing my mother at an early age, to being homeless, to being victorious over domestic violence, and to battling depression & PTSD Etc. I share because God has called us African-American Women to be bold, strong and united for just this time to help others that my being going through right now to come out. We are OVERCOMERS. If He did it for us, He’ll do it for you. He has no respect of person. What He does for one, He’ll do for the next.

Crystal: Why did you become a literacy advocate?

Angela:  I wanted to bring awareness to African-American authors and literacy within our communities.

Crystal: What is the name of your organization?

Angela: Pushing Grace Networking Group and African-American Author Literacy Awareness Campaign (AAALAC)

Crystal: What are the ages of the children you mentor?  

Angela: 4yrs-17

Crystal: Why is reading important for children?

Angela: If kids can’t read by 3rd grade, they will most likely suffer from self-esteem issues, suffer academically and will not go to college. These are just a few of the reasons why reading is important.

Crystal: How many children in your community lack access to books?

Angela: Based on information collected from United Way of Anderson County, there are more than a thousand.

Crystal: Literacy is more than words. How do you encourage all forms of literacy in your organization (i.e. singing, dancing, painting, acting)?

Angela: How do these activities boost the children’s love for reading? We encourage our kids to not only read, but dance, sing, draw, paint, drama, and write poetry and short stories. Last summer, we actually had a few children’s book authors tour summer enrichment programs and share with our kids through various workshops. Our youth were encouraged to write, draw, color and work together. When kids can bring what they have read to life through songs and dance, it encourages them to read more.

Crystal: How important is it for children to read aloud?

Angela: According to Becoming a Nation of Readers and a 1985 report by the Commission on Reading stressed, “The single most important activity for building these understandings and skills essential for reading success appears to be reading aloud to children.” Reading aloud presents books as sources of pleasant, valuable, and exciting experiences. Children who value books are motivated to read on their own. Reading aloud gives children background knowledge, which helps them make sense of what they see, hear, and read. The more adults read aloud to children, the larger their vocabularies will grow and the more they will know about the world and their place in it. Reading aloud lets parents and teachers be role models for reading. When children see adults excited about reading, they will catch their enthusiasm. Reading aloud can introduce books and types of literature (poetry, short stories, biographies) children might not discover on their own. Reading aloud introduces the language of books, which differs from language heard in daily conversations, on television, and in movies. Book language is more descriptive and uses more formal grammatical structures.  Reading aloud lets children use their imaginations to explore people, places, times, and events beyond their own experiences (Young Children, NAEYC’s journal editor Derry Koralek).

Crystal: Literacy begins at home. How do you empower parents to read?

Angela: You encourage them by providing reading materials for the kids to borrow or have for home use.  We engage our parents by having events where parents come and participate. If you can get a parent to invest time in their children, they will be successful academically. We have learned that the less they have to invest, the more they will participate.

Crystal: Did you know the Hidden Figures story prior to the movie?

Angela: No

Crystal: How did the movie impact your life?

Angela: It helps reinforce what we are trying to instill in our kids in our program. It promotes sisterhood and education.

Crystal: Who is your Hidden Figure/mentor?

Angela: Dorothy Vaughn because of her various background, love for mathematics, and her ability to lead.

Crystal: What is your favorite quote?

Angela: Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Crystal: What is your favorite book?

Angela: Since I co-founded AAALAC, I have read a lot of books over the last few months and have become quite fond of a few of them. Right now, I can’t pick a favorite. Pat Simmons’ books were at the top of my list before.

Crystal: What is the last book you read?

Angela: Use What’s Left, Rebound from Setback by Dr. Edward Womack

Crystal: What words of inspiration can you leave the audience?

Angela: Strive to be the best that you can be.  When people tell you no, you keep pushing. If you never try, you will never know if you will succeed or fail. If you fail, at least you can say you tried. No matter what you do in life, do it with all your heart. Never settle for anything because you will fall for nothing. P.U.S.H. (pray until something happens). God will never put more on you than you can bear. He covered you in Jeremiah 29:11. The storm is over, it’s time to walk in your purpose.

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