Civil Rights icon Maxine Smith remembered in memorial - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Civil Rights icon Maxine Smith remembered in memorial

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Hundreds gathered Saturday at Metropolitan Baptist Church for a memorial service of Civil Rights icon Maxine Smith, who passed away April 26 at the age of 83.

From Memphis to The White House the 83-year-old's lifetime of dedication to fighting for equal rights had a lasting impression on those she left behind.

"Maxine Smith lived a great life among us," said Rev. Reginald Porter.

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Her legacy did not just draw attention in Memphis but evening the Preside of the United States took time to acknowledge her work, sending a letter to Ms. Smith's family.

"Michelle and I were saddened to learn of the passing of your mother, Maxine," said Roslyn Brock, who read a letter aloud from President Barack Obama. "We extend our heartfelt condolences. Maxine devoted her life to the struggle for fairness and equality in America. She broke down doors long closed for African Americans and pave the way forward for the future of one nation."

Mayor A C Wharton, talked specifically about the doors Ms. Smith broke down locally for African Americans, including what her work meant to his predecessor.

"Let Dr. W.W. Herenton testify. He'll tell you Maxine was elected to the school board in 1971 and helped to pave the way for him to become the first black superintendent in 1979," Mayor Wharton said. "That same Dr. Herenton became the first black mayor in 1991 with her help."

Ms. Smith helped integrate public schools in Memphis, and worked on a committee for the sanitation workers strike, which brought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Memphis in the 1960s.

U.S. Congressman Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) said she's not someone who marched behind Dr. King. Her work proves she walked beside him. Her steps were as strong and as impactful.

"She was not just about Martin Luther King, she was of Martin Luther King," Rep. Cohen said. "She saw people and judged them based on the content of their character and not the color of her skin. I will forever be indebted to Maxine Smith and her spirit will always reside in the U.S. Congress as long as I'm there."

Her spirit lives on in the many lives she touched during her 83-year-long-journey. Because of this civil rights icon's lifetime of dedication Memphis will never be same.

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