(Memphis) On the office walls of the Memphis chapter of the NAACP building on Vance, photographs show Maxine Smith, the organization's former executive secretary, in her role as a foot soldier and leader in the Civil Rights Movement.
Madeleine Taylor is the executive director of the Memphis NAACP, "She's been the mother of the Civil Rights Movement in Memphis. She's made it possible for us to have so many opportunities that just were not there for us."
Dr. Warner Dickerson is the president of the NAACP in Memphis.
He's known and worked with Smith for many years, "Nobody that I know has the tenacity that she has and the fearlessness that she has doing the period of time when it was detrimental to your body to stand up for things. She stood up for us."
Smith also stood up through boycotts, marches and sit-in and she was one of the first major African-American leaders to throw her support behind the candidacy of Steve Cohen and on issues like The MED, and the Tennessee lottery, "Maxine Smith has been an essential part of my success and a person I look to for guidance and support."
Now her friends are praying for the Civil Rights pioneer.
She's recently battled serious health problems, including a heart condition.
Tuesday morning, she underwent a heart operation in Atlanta.
Taylor said, "She's been under the knife a number of times and yet we still hope and are hopeful for a positive return. She's been waiting on this particular surgery for quite a while."
Her friends are also hopeful that she will quickly recover.
Dickerson said, "Our hopes and prayers are that she will have a full recovery and the rest of the years ahead will be as productive as in the past."
Cohen said, "She will continue to be in Memphis and be a force and people should and have revered her and should continue to revere her."
Friends say Smith's heart operation went without complications and that she continues to recover at a hospital in Atlanta.