William Walter Smith (? - 1940) was the first black graduate at the University of Illinois when he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and Arts. After finishing high school in Homer, Illinois, he
started college, graduating from the the University of Illinois in 1900. Later, in 1907, he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. As a college student, William was editor for the 1899-1900 student newspaper, The Illini. The newspaper was published three times a week for a cost of $1.25 per year. William also participated in the Republican Club, the class football team, the rifle team, the Philomathean Literary Society, and he was a Hatchet orator. Starting in 1918, William worked for several years in South America in Buenos Aires, Argentina, building grain elevators. After that, he sold structural steel products in Chile. He died in the United States around 1940 in Philadelphia. William Walter Smith was born to Mary E. Oglesby Gaines Smith and George W. Smith. George W. Smith was a former slave who farmed in Broadlands, Illinois. In 1983, the Smith family got a Centennial Farm Award for owning the land for over 100 years.