KNOXVILLE, Tenn.(WVLT)-- Sarah Moore Greene, one of Knoxville's most respected leaders in civil rights to the classroom, passed away this morning in Knoxville at the age of 102.
Ms. Greene was the first black member of the Knoxville School Board and a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
A slew of condolences was received from U.S. Senator Bob Corker to Lamar Alexander. Both Knoxville Mayors spoke of her influence.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said, "Sarah Moore Greene was a dear friend of my family. She lived an amazing life dedicated to our community. I think one of the things my father was most proud of was helping to name a school after Sarah at a time when recognizing
African Americans wasn't at all popular."
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said of her civil rights involvement, "I think it is great that she would share that with the young kids at the school named after her, they can read about civil rights, read about challenges, but to actually close your books and talk to somebody who went through that is pretty special".
The daughter of a slave, Sarah Moore was born in 1910 when the average wage was $15 a week.
She was born before World War I, before women could vote, and taught before desegregation. That was a movement she was in the forefront for in east Tennessee.
"In terms of really trying to help the downtrodden, those who are handicapped in many ways by society," said Avon Rollins, Sr.
Rollins stood along her side for equal rights. He's now the CEO of the Beck Cultural Center, which is preserving the triumphs and struggles of African-Americans in east Tennessee.
Andre Canty not only works at the Beck Center, he was also a student at Sarah Moore Greene Elementary from 1990-1995. He's an activist for equal rights as well, and says that she provided an example for other young east Tennesseans to follow.
"I didn't know anything about her ... I didn't realize we had our own Civil Rights rock star right here in Knoxville," said Canty.
Canty says she told him two things: get your degree, and continue the fight against equality, a fight that is not over.
Greene was also a hero to young women.
"She made us feel like there wasn't anything we couldn't do," said Sheryl Rollins, the president of the Knoxville chapter of the NAACP. "Realize that as a female, the only barriers that you have are ones that you let yourself accept," said Rollins.
Even though she is gone, Rollins says as long as those who knew her pass along her message, Greene's legacy will live on.
"As long as you have young people who have been touched by her, and have reaped the benefits of her dedication to education and Civil Rights, she will always be apart of their community," said Rollins.