Born and raised in Natchez, Mississippi, Joseph took an early interest in civic affairs and uplifting the condition of the African American community. He initiated multiple programs in his home state designed to help young people live fulfilling and successful lives. The importance of these efforts was recognized when he was named an Outstanding Citizen of Natchez in 2006 by Mayor Philip West. Smith and his work on responsible drinking and anti-smoking campaigns has been featured in the documentary film Straight from the Heart depicting the efforts of exceptional Mississippians. In Washington, Smith continues to take a deep interest in community affairs. He is a regular volunteer at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center, where he serves, in conjunction with the Urban Passage, as a mentor and advisor to youth offenders. Smith is currently an executive board member of Next Generation Leaders of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.
The first in seven generations of his family to graduate from a four year college, Smith is 2006 magna cum laude graduate of Howard University, where he also received the Master of Divinity degree in 2010. In 2008, Joseph was one of twenty emerging theologians selected as a Ministry Fellow by the Fund for Theological Education.
A talented musician and accomplished vocalist, Joseph has performed for many prominent audiences including the inauguration of Mississippi Governor Ronnie Musgrove, the Annual Congressional Black Caucus Spouses Celebration, the Kennedy Center Honors, Bobby Jones Gospel, the International Conservatoire Week in St. Petersburg, Russia, the inauguration of DC Mayor Vincent Gray, and memorials services for Ossie Davis, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, and Clyde Bailey. In 2008, he shared the stage with President Barack Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Awards Dinner, where his rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing received high praise.
As an ordained minister, Rev. Smith focuses on using music, the arts, and a contemporary and pragmatic approach to help people lead successful lives. In 2014, he launched Joseph A.C. Smith Ministries which has impacted nearly a quarter of million lives with the Gospel. In 2016, his Periscope daily broadcast, "The Morning Hype" was viewed by thousands of people worldwide.
In 2009, in support of President Obama's Affordable Health Care legislation, Smith cofounded Students for Healthcare Reform to organize college students from across the Washington,DC region to lobby members of Congress in support of the legislation. In 2017, in collaboration with Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC), Smith spearheaded Souls to Enroll- a faith-based initiative to encourage enrollment through the Affordable Care Act; the effort helped to pushed enrollment to nearly 9 million people, despite drastic funding cuts and shorter open enrollment periods. In June of 2020, in response to ongoing police brutality, Smith organized the Prayer Walk for Peace and Justice, in collaboration with the NAACP and Alfred Street Baptist Church; The prayer walk convened nearly 10,000 people on DC's National Mall to peacefully march to Black Lives Matter Plaza- just feet from the White House.
In addition to his role as CEO of Joseph AC Smith Ministries, Smith is the founder of BlackNatchez.org- a Mississippi based nonprofit working to preserve the history of African Americans in Southwest, Mississippi and to revitalize Natchez's historically Black neighborhoods. Smith has served as the Pastor of Innovation and Planning at New Bethel Baptist Church- a traditional church in downtown Washington DC experiencing revival among urban millennials despite gentrification; program officer at the Faith and Politics Institute in Washington, DC where he led organizational programming on civil rights, bipartisanship, civility and leadership; and as Assistant to the Pastor at the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA where he helped coordinate two consecutive Easter visits by President Barack Obama.