by Howard Campbell
[SOUTH FLORIDA] – In June, Alison F. Smith became the first woman of color to serve as president of the Broward County Bar Association. Another accomplishment for the Jamaican who has lived in South Florida for over 25 years.
Smith, a partner with the Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman law firm in Miami, was elected to the post in June, 2021. Specializing in labor and employment, she also served as president of the Caribbean Bar Association from 2013-14.
The affable attorney was actually born in Mount Vernon, New York. But, she was taken to Jamaica by her parents at one month old. She spent her formative years in St. Elizabeth parish before moving at age 10 to neighboring Manchester to attend high school.
The biggest influence on Smith’s life is Keturah Wright, her grandmother, affectionately known as “Grammie”.
“My grandmother was extremely permissive and one of my absolute favorite memories is as a child, being allowed to write on the walls of our house (outside) with crayons. We thought it was an everlasting blackboard and pretended to be in school! We never got in trouble for doing that either! My childhood under Grammie’s watchful eye and support was very fun and safe and happy,” she recalled.
The Wright family had some standing in St. Elizabeth, a farming region with a large community of German descendants. Black River, its chief town, was a thriving commercial hub; in 1893, it became the first location in Jamaica to have electricity.
Smith’s grandfather, Charles DeCordova Wright, was a businessman, pastor and member of Jamaica’s parliament.
She recalls fun times living between St. Elizabeth and Manchester.
“I did not play sports, was not interested in sports, and grew up in a house filled with women who also did not like or play sports. Much later in life when I was in high school, I got into cricket, which everyone seemed to enjoy,” she said. “As far as entertainment, I loved our local shows and comedians like Lime Tree Lane and of course Oliver At Large. I still YouTube Oliver At Large when I want a good laugh.”
As Alison F. Smith moves up the legal ladder in South Florida, her beloved Grammie has been by her side to savor that success. On January 26, the family matriarch celebrated her 100th birthday. This milestone was acknowledged by the city of Miramar as ‘Keturah “Grammie” Wright Day’.
Smith never loses touch with her years in rural Jamaica.
“If I could go back in time, I would stay forever between the ages of seven and 10 when we could write on the walls with crayons and when I was always with my sisters and we made mud pies, played hopscotch and felt safe and protected,” she said.