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Presented by Philip smallwood

"A Life of Service"

The Theodora Smiley Lacey Portrait Tour


Theodora Smiley Lacey

Theodora Smiley Lacey is a hidden figure in both civil rights activism and educational reform. Born in 1932 in Montgomery, Alabama, Mrs. Lacey bore witness to the injustices of Jim Crow segregation, igniting within her an unwavering commitment to fight for equality.


Mrs. Lacey has often been “in the room” playing a pivotal role in challenging injustice. Shortly after graduating from Alabama State University, which was at the center of the Civil Rights movement in the 1950’s, she became a significant presence in critical moments of American History. 



Her career spans more than 70 years in civil rights/community activism and over 40 years in education. From playing an active role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott alongside her friends, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Jo Ann Robinson, to conducting groundbreaking research and shedding light on voter registration fraud in Alabama, which catalyzed legal victories for voting rights including the Civil Rights Act of 1957. From advocating for fair housing in Northern New Jersey to notably contributing to the voluntary integration of Teaneck Public Schools — a first in U.S. history without judicial intervention - Mrs. Lacey’s impact has been profound.


Philip Smallwood has masterfully captured the essence of Mrs. Lacey in an original portrait that exemplifies the grace and beauty of a life lived in service of equality.


The Theodora Smiley Lacey portrait presents an opportunity to explore the role of art in societal narratives, education, community activism, and historical context, echoing the values inherent in Mrs. Lacey's life and inspiring the next generation of "quiet leaders". Along with her family, Mrs. Lacey has endorsed our efforts to share the legacy of her life’s work with as many people as possible. 

the Portrait Tour
Amplifying the quiet Legacy of Theodora Smiley Lacey

"A Life of Service" is a touring portrait exhibition, featuring an original painting by renowned artist Philip Smallwood which captures the essence of Mrs. Lacey, celebrating the legacy and the transformative impact of hidden figures like her in the pursuit of social justice. The objective is twofold:

Amplifying Individual Community Leadership: 

Underscore the critical role that individuals play in fostering community leadership, illustrating how active participation and commitment to social justice can drive significant change within communities. The aim is to motivate a new generation of leaders by demonstrating that the power to effect positive change lies within each person's actions and dedication to their community.

Advocating for National Recognition: 

Advocate for the placement of the Theodora Smiley Lacey portrait in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NAAHC) in Washington D.C. By achieving this placement, the aim is to immortalize Mrs. Lacey's legacy, ensuring that her life's work continues to educate and inspire future generations.

Getting Involved

"A Life of Service" offers multiple avenues for engagement and support, catering to individuals, organizations, and businesses looking to contribute to the legacy and recognition of Theodora Smiley Lacey’s impactful life. Here's how you can make a difference:



Organizations and businesses can collaborate through tailored partnership opportunities. Collaborating could mean hosting an exhibition event, providing services or resources for the tour, or engaging in joint promotional activities. Such collaborations are not only a chance to support a significant cause but also offer a platform to align your brand with values of education, civil rights, and community leadership.



Sponsorship is a direct way to support "A Life of Service" while gaining visibility and association with a movement that celebrates significant historical contributions to civil rights and education. Sponsorship packages can range from financial support for specific parts of the tour, such as the VIP receptions or educational workshops, to contributions towards the overall logistics of the touring exhibition. Sponsors can expect recognition through various channels, including event materials, digital platforms, and during events themselves.



Individual donations provide crucial support for the logistical aspects of the tour, educational programming, and the preservation of Theodora Smiley Lacey’s legacy. Every contribution, big or small, helps ensure the success of the tour and the continuation of its mission to inspire and educate. Donate Here...


Sign the Petition

Adding your name to the petition aimed at recognizing Theodora Smiley Lacey’s contributions on a national level, advocating for the placement of her portrait in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, is a powerful way to lend your voice to the cause. Petitions can rally public support and draw attention to Mrs. Lacey's legacy, emphasizing the importance of her work in the civil rights movement and education reform. Sign the Petition...

A Note on Donations: Please be aware that donations made directly through our website fund the tour and its associated educational and community initiatives. Contributions through platforms like support the promotion of petitions related to our cause but do not directly fund the tour efforts.

Impactful Sponsorships

"A Life of Service": The Theodora Smiley Lacey Portrait Tour, offering unique sponsorship activations that align with your organization’s values and mission. Engage with diverse audiences, connect with community leaders, and leave a lasting legacy through our customizable sponsorship packages:

VIP Receptions Sponsorship:

Be at the heart of exclusive gatherings, facilitating intimate connections between your brand, influential figures, and the creative minds behind the tour.

Workshops Sponsorship:

Empower attendees with knowledge through sponsor-branded workshops that delve into art, history, and social justice principles.

Innovation in Art Sponsorship:

Redefine engagement with technology by enhancing the exhibition experience through augmented reality or mobile applications.

Community Impact Sponsorship:

Foster creative collaboration by sponsoring community art projects, showcasing your commitment to communal creativity and engagement.

Storytellers' Series Sponsorship:

Narrate impactful journeys through compelling video content or podcasts, highlighting stories of leadership and activism.

Challenge for change Sponsorship:

Inspire action online with themed social media challenges, offering rewards and recognition under your brand.

Legacy Builders Sponsorship:

Support scholarships or community grants in your brand’s name, contributing to education and community development.

Community Voices Sponsorship:

Amplify voices that matter by leading panels with community leaders and activists, demonstrating your commitment to societal progress.

Sponsorship Benefits

All sponsors will receive comprehensive visibility and acknowledgment across various platforms, including:

  • Recognition as a sponsor on the official tour website, promotional materials, and appropriate signage.

  • Inclusion of your logo in select social media messages and emails to our targeted list of attendees.

  • An opportunity to engage with an extensive audience, leveraging our combined social media presence and dedicated subscriber base.


Join Us in Making A Difference

By partnering with us, you’re not just sponsoring an event; you’re fostering a movement that celebrates art, legacy, and societal progress. Let’s make a meaningful impact together.

Please fill out the form below to express your interest or request more information about our customizable sponsorship activations. Whether you're ready to become a sponsor or simply want to learn more, we're here to provide you with all the details you need to make an informed decision.

Sponsorship Package Interest:

Thanks for submitting!


  • Inaugural Unveiling

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We invite you to stay connected with us for the latest updates and announcements. Here's how you can keep in touch and be the first to know about all the exciting developments:

  • Subscribe to Our Newsletter: Receive direct updates right in your inbox.

  • Follow Us on Social Media: Join our community for real-time news and interactive content.

  • Bookmark Our Website: Revisit our site regularly for the most current information and resources.

Advisory Committee

Allison Davis, Founder, Coopty Productions

Linda Spradley Dunn, CEO and Founder, Odyssey Media

Barbara Giarmo, Co-Chair, Martin Luther King Birthday Committee

Ann Guillory, Ed.D, Full Professor, Felician College

Dr. Alfred Gigante, DC, Chiropractic Physician, Founder, The Back Pain Center, LLC.

Dr. Janelle Hall, Chief Executive Officer, United Passaic Organization (UPO)

Natalie B. McKenzie, Founder/CEO, The Whole Woman

Allan Kiser, Vice President, and Compliance Officer, Fidelity Investments

Rev. Dr. Forrest M. Pritchett, Professor, Seton Hall University

Dr. Anita E. Rivers, MA, Ed.D, Executive Director of Community Relations, FDU

Teresa Oakley-Smallwood, Chief People Officer, Sumitomo Corporation of Americas

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