Civil Rights Efforts

Sarah Moore Greene & U. S. Congressman John Duncan, Jr.

Sarah Moore Greene & Civil Rights icons – Theotis Robinson, Jr.-left, Avon Rollins, Sr.-right

Sarah Moore Greene & Civil Rights icon – U. S. Representative Maxine Waters

Ms. Greene participated in the work of churches and organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People that were “for the uplifting of our people.”

From sit-ins at restaurants to negotiations with city officials and business owners, Ms. Greene rallied the support of an array of people. “She had the ability to get along with people from all walks of life, both black and white,” said U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., whose father, John J. Duncan Sr., was Knoxville city law director and then mayor during the civil-rights era. “That helped her be effective. She didn’t turn people off.”

Many blacks were arrested when they attempted to get service at local businesses. “Any time they put us in jail, he’d tell them to turn us loose, and they did,” said Ms. Greene, who managed to stay out of jail. Ms. Greene credits Knoxville’s peaceful integration with the diplomacy with which it was done. But times were rough. She’d often cry over the blatant disparity caused by segregation laws. “I’d pray at night,” Ms. Greene said. “I’d ask the Lord to change things, to change hearts, because even when we got integrated, they (white people) still treated us differently.”

Ms. Greene said of all the changes brought about through the national and local civil-rights movement, she was particularly gratified that black and white students can learn beside one another. “I didn’t believe we’d ever be able to go to school together peacefully, but we did. We didn’t force it,” she said. “We’d sit in and walk in, but we never did force our way in.”

Ms. Greene said she had no regrets. She was gratified she was able to see some results of her life’s work: kindergarten students who grew up to become community leaders; the integration of Knoxville’s businesses; and improved education for children.


Sarah Moore Greene at 1977 N.A.A.C.P. Annual Fellowship Dinner

Sarah Moore Greene & William Haslam, Governor, State of Tennessee

Sarah Moore Greene & U.S. Senator Howard Baker, Jr.

Sarah Moore Greene & U.S. Secretary of State & President of America’s Promise, Colin Powell