MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Maxine A. Smith, an influential Memphis civil rights leader, died Friday. She was 83.
Her death was confirmed by Memphis Mayor AC Wharton on his Facebook page.
Smith, retired executive secretary of the Memphis branch of the NAACP and a former city school board member, had chronic heart problems, according to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/11K3KoH).
She was a part of every significant chapter in the city’s storied history of race relations over half a century, from protest to integration to busing to the rise of black political power.
“Today we mourn the passing of civil rights icon, Maxine Smith,” Wharton said on Facebook. “With her death, Memphis has lost a legendary leader for human rights and one of the brightest stars in the great expanse of our city’s history.”
The Dayton mayors wife says she was told Wednesday that her vote in the Aug. 2 Republican primary will be rejected, triggering a debate over a voters’ ability to participate in the party primary of his or her choice.
From Action Andy Sher’s report: “I’m still in shock,” Maxine Vincent, wife of Dayton Mayor Bob Vincent said.
There were unconfirmed reports that as many as five other voters had their effort to cast ballots in the GOP primary challenged by Republican election officials.
Vincent, who acknowledged usually voting for Democrats, and her husband are longtime friends and now supporters of Republican Ron Travis, of Dayton. He is running against state Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, in the House District 31 GOP primary, which is among the contests on the primary ballot. Early voting started last Friday.
Rhea County Administrator of Elections Theresa Snyder, who Vincent said challenged her voting in the GOP primary, said in an interview that “the way the state law reads you can be challenged in a political primary for several reasons.”
Snyder said a primary “is for the purpose members of that party to select a nominee to appear on the November ballot. And I think that kind of speaks for itself.”
Tennessee law says a registered voter is entitled to vote in a primary election if the voter is a “bona fide member of and affiliated with the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote; or at the time the voter seeks to vote, the voter declares allegiance to the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote and states the voter intends to affiliate with that party.”
Snyder confirmed Vincent did take the oath as she was asked a series of questions about her allegiance to the Republican Party. But she added that “the three judges verified her voting history and made their decision.”
“Obviously, she has a strong history voting for one party, not the party she asked to vote in,” Snyder said.
Since it was a Republican primary, the panel was comprised of Republicans. Vincent said Snyder was one of the judges. Asked about that, Snyder would only say it was “three judges.” When pressed about her participation, she told a reporter to call the state election coordinator’s office and then hung up.
…Travis said he was dismayed over what happened.
“There are rules and processes that we have to follow,” he said. “But we’ve got a unique situation here” because only he and Cobb are running the GOP primary and there is no Democrat running in the House race this fall.
“This is the primary and this is the general,” he said. “There are only two candidates running. But I do believe we need to follow the rules and the processes and the law. We’re not to bend [them] to the benefit of any candidate.”
He said he thinks Vincent was treated unfairly “if she raised her hand and took the oath of the Republican Party. For goodness sake, Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat.”