As you may know, most of our guests appear via Skype or telephone and rarely do I actually meet them unless I knew them before hand or live nearby.
For example, on the left is a photo of me with frequent guest Dan Tynan at a Wikipedia birthday party in San Francisco.
Being from Rhode Island, I had hoped to meet with the “Privacy Paragon of Providence”, Privacy Journal publisher Robert Ellis Smith who has appeared on CLBR five (5) times and is one of our more fascinating guests. Being from a large family, my trips back home were usually brief or too jammed with family activities to pull it off.
Last week, I finally got the chance to meet Robert Ellis Smith (@rob_35) on a rainy fall day on Providence’s East Side and he lived up to expectations. He is not just a fellow “Hoya Lawya” and Red Sox fan but a journalist, scholar, civil rights activist and monologist with stories about his encounters with Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro and even Buddy Cianci, the legendary Mayor of Providence.
It has been said that Robert has been in the privacy field “before the field was even defined.” “Privacy Journal” is one of the longest running newsletters in North America dating back to 1974. He also has published numerous books on privacy, including Privacy: How to Protect What’s Left of It (1979) which was nominated for a National Book Award.
Robert wrote for the Harvard Crimson and he famously posed as President Kennedy, fooling the crowd in a notorious stunt at the Harvard-Yale football game in 1961.
Robert began his career as journalist and was editor of the pro-civil rights Southern Courier in Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 which he called an Act of Patriotism.
From 1970 to 1973, Smith was the assistant director of the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
He has taught at Harvard College, University of Maryland, and Emerson College, Brown University and Roger Williams School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island.
He also is active in writing about and preserving Block Island, the hidden gem of an island twelve miles off the coast of Rhode Island.
FYI – For the uninitiated, Block Island has been called “heaven on earth” by NBC News Anchor Brian Williams. Below is a Good Morning America profile of the island.