The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported Wednesday that Maxine Smith, who served for more than 40 years as the executive secretary for the local NAACP, said the Illinois senator's presidential bid is historic.
"I don't think Barack Obama came along for nothing," Smith told an audience of about 40 at the National Civil Rights Museum Tuesday. "It ain't happenstance; it's God's will."
Smith said there are similarities between Obama and King, whom she met in the 1940s while they were students in Atlanta, the newspaper reported.
"I don't know if Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States," Smith said. "But I will say that I never thought in my 78 years that we would see the day, in 2008, that a young black man had the very real possibility to become president of the United States."