Rev. Billy Kyles remembers Maxine Smith - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rev. Billy Kyles remembers Maxine Smith

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MEMPHIS, TN - (WMC-TV) – Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles witnessed Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.  They were headed to Kyles' house for dinner that night.  That's where Maxine Smith and others were waiting.  She too was an integral part in the movement that forever changed Memphis and the nation.

"Oh, she was caring, resourceful, unafraid," said Kyles.

Action News 5 sat down with Kyles in the study of his Monumental Baptist Church.  He reflected on his longtime friendship with Smith and her husband, Vasco.

"At least 50 years," said Kyles.  "Probably more than 50 years."

Kyles learned of Smith's death early Friday morning and, like others, recalled her decades of service to the NAACP.  It was a time that demanded dedicated and determined people..

"When I got to Memphis, everything was segregated," said Kyles.  "Not one thing was integrated, everything was segregated. And the NAACP led the charge against that."

Kyles said Maxine Smith was on the front lines of the fight for minority rights, women's rights, and the right to a quality education.

"Someone has said ‘the service of a rose is in its beauty," said Kyles.  "The beauty of a life is in its service. She was a servant."

Funeral arrangements for Maxine Smith have not been released.

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