Credit Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries
Maxine Smith (left) and Dr. Miriam DeCosta-Willis (right) on their way to a jail cell on Dec. 12, 1969. At this time Dr. DeCosta-Willis was known as Miriam Sugarmon. In 1957, both women applied to be graduate students at the University of Memphis, then called Memphis State University. They were rejected because of their race.
When Maxine Smith was born in Memphis in 1929, the city was segregated by race.
Smith graduated from Booker T. Washington High School at age 15. She attended Spelman College in Atlanta, where she knew Martin Luther King, Jr., who had also graduated high school early and was attending the nearby Morehouse College.
“He was a nerd,” Smith recalled years later.
Smith earned a Master’s degree at Middlebury College in Vermont and taught college level French.
We remember 1967 as a year which brought us “Lucy In The Sky (With Diamonds)” as well as “Judy In Disguise With Glasses.” But it was also the year Elvis Presley’s recording career began to wake from a deep slumber.
To get a perspective on Presley’s music in 1967, you have to go back to sessions in 1966 and 1961. His music career was still being driven by his movie commitments, and still being hamstrung by his management’s insistence on exclusively cutting songs owned by their publishing company.
The Tennessee General Assembly wrapped up its session last week. There were some major state laws passed this year: an overhaul to the workers’ compensation program, a law that allows people to store guns in their cars while at work, and a nearly $33 billion budget. But many high-profile proposals ended up in the waste-bin as a result of intra-party squabbling.