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Charlotte couple recognized for breaking barriers

As we celebrate Black History Month you'd be surprised the people living right here in Charlotte that have broken barriers.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Madie Maddox Smith Moore is a pioneer for breaking barriers in Charlotte's health care field. 

In high school, the now 91-year-old worked in the segregated Charlotte Memorial Hospital. She worked there until continuing her education at St. Augustine's University in Raleigh. 

"Came back to Charlotte I worked in Mercy's wing for people of color," Moore said.

Years later, she was encouraged to work at the Mecklenburg County Health Department. But it didn't come easy. 

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"At that time, I either had to have someone of your color or race retire or die before I got hired," Maddox said. 

Moore was eventually hired, but the job was difficult. She was closely watched by those who didn't look like her once she started working as a staff nurse. She made the most of it, learning supervisor duties and doing things she wasn't asked to do. 

Credit: WCNC

"I volunteered to make out the schedule, assign people and nobody had a problem with that," Moore said.

In the mid-1970s, Moore was the first Black nurse promoted to supervisor at the health department. That position also helped her earn free schooling at UNC Charlotte to become a certified child care specialist. 

RELATED: Iconic Uptown Charlotte mural helps to highlight the Black experience of the past and present

History runs in Moore's household. Her husband, Jackie Moore, was the first Black athlete to play for what is now the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. 

"They were Philadelphia at that time," Jackie Moore said. "That was from '54 to '58."

Moore said his accomplishment wasn't noted until years later but he didn't care, because he just wanted to play. 

"Playing at that time, a lot of the while ballplayers didn't like Black ballplayers because they felt we were taking their jobs," he said. 

Staying resilient through it all is why Moore is going down as one of the players who opened doors for the players you see on the court today. 

"Right now for the Hornets, I like Miles Bridges," Moore said. "I really like his style of play."

Contact Ruby Durham at rdurham@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

RELATED: People that you should know for Black History Month 2022

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