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Civil rights leader Madeline Taylor retires

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It was a bittersweet day for the Memphis chapter of the NAACP as the executive director officially retired.

Madeline Taylor served for more than two decades with the organization, and Thursday she was honored with a farewell retirement luncheon.

But Taylor's passion for issues and helping people that has driven her life's work with the NAACP.

"I've worked on issues as far as criminal justice, police department, housing, healthcare," Taylor said. "Just some of everything and any number of people, from leaders in the city to people on the street."

Taylor retired after serving 26 years with the organization.

"It's been very much a part of my life, my family's life for a long time, so it has been hard to say goodbye."

Taylor began her career as an assistant social worker in South Memphis but also served the community as a teacher in Memphis City Schools.

She also worked for corporations like Exxon and AT&T before serving the last six years as the executive director of the NAACP's Memphis chapter.

She calls her time with the NAACP more than a job, but instead a passion.

"I've run the gamut of experiences, I've worked with individuals who are filing complaints against everyone and everybody, and worked on the freedom fund galas all 26 years."

Taylor said bringing  civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump to Memphis was one of the highlights of her career with the civil rights organization.  Crump represented the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown families.

"We were able to bring Benjamin Crump to Memphis on an issue that was very much racking the country. He came and spoke for our freedom fund gala luncheon this spring, and he talked with what was happening with law enforcement and our community."

As for what's next, Taylor said she would like to stay involved in nonprofit work.

Taylor's accomplishments also include a stint as an appointed member of the Memphis City Council representing the Whitehaven, Oakhaven and Hickory Hill areas.

Taylor also serves on the boards of several organizations that serve the city's youth, including Girl's Inc and the Girl Scout Council of the Mid-South.