Robert Smalls is one of this country’s greatest heroes, yet most people have not heard of him. Living in relative anonymity compared to black history icons such as Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, Smalls’s contribution to American history should not go unnoticed. Born into slavery, Smalls became a soldier during the Civil War, a politician after the conflict, and an entrepreneur whose legacy influenced the country.
“His whole story is just kind of fascinating,” Wilfred Reilly, a Kentucky State University professor of political science, previously told me about Smalls. “He was this sort of warrior, forced to be a pilot on this Confederate fighting boat. He stole the boat and took it to a Union port. Joined the other side of the military [and] did