Earlier this year, Carolyn Smith was elected vice president of the 1199 Retired Members Division. But Retirees VP is just one of the many hats she wears.
Smith is a long-time political activist, cable TV producer and host, historian and social media activist. Before retiring in 2010 from her post as a clinical laboratory technologist at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, she was an active Union delegate while raising four daughters as a single mother.
“One of the things I’d like to promote is for more of our retirees to become computer savvy,” Smith says. “That’s especially important for members who might have difficulty getting around and attending various activities.”
Smith herself has no problem getting around. She often uses her movie camera to shoot footage for her weekly cable TV program “Carol’s Journey,” which is broadcast on Bronxnet Channel 68, Manhattan Cable, FIOS and RCN.
She began the show about eight years ago after taking a class in TV production. “I draw on my experiences at work, politics and social activism,” she says. She’s a long-time member of the NAACP, from which she will receive an award for journalism on October 4.
For many years, she was a member of the Women’s Political Caucus. She is proud of her work with political pioneers such as the late Congressional Representatives Shirley Chisholm and Bella Abzug. She also worked with Ruth Messinger, who ran for New York City mayor in 1997 against Rudolph Giuliani. She was an early supporter of Hillary Clinton’s run for the U.S. Senate. A photo of her with the current Democratic candidate for mayor, Bill de Blasio, can be seen on this website.
Smith is also on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn. Twitter and shares material on Instagram. “Besides the studio equipment, I usually carry an iPad and iPhone with me and I have a Mac desktop and laptop at home,” she says.
She has read extensively about the Underground Railroad and has devoted TV programs to the subject. “My family were members of a church that was a stop on the Underground Railroad,” she says.
Her father was born in Canada but moved to Buffalo where Smith grew up. “I come from a union background,” she says, recalling Buffalo’s auto, steel and other plants that provided good wages and benefits for its unionized workers while she was growing up. “That’s changed, but that also underscores the need for a stronger labor movement,” she notes.
“We need to continue to organize and inform people of all ages,” she stresses. “That includes seniors. But we should not just talk at them. We need to listen to their needs and concerns. Social media is one way to have that conversation. I’d like to help make that happen.