Harry C. Smith founded the Cleveland Gazette in 1883, a year after he graduated from high school. Under his editorial control, the Gazette was a staunch advocate of African American civil rights. Smith was elected to the Ohio state legislature in 1894 and served three terms in all. As a legislator, Smith introduced civil rights legislation in 1894, and in 1896 he successfully shepherded a strict anti-lynching bill into law (the Smith Act) that served as a model for other states. Smith published the Gazette until his death in 1941.