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Georgia Powers, a Black politician and lawyer, was born on this date in 1923.
Georgia Davis Powers was born in Springfield, KY, the only girl in a family with nine siblings. Powers once worked as a riveter on airplane fuselages in Buffalo, NY. She moved to Louisville, KY, and got involved in politics through her church. From 1962 to 1967, Powers was campaign chair for several candidates. Even before she began her career as a senator, Georgia Powers was an American civil rights movement leader in Kentucky.
She was one of the essential organizers of a statewide rally in March 1964 supporting a law to make public accommodations accessible to all, regardless of race. This rally brought civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jackie Robinson to Frankfort, the Kentucky state capitol.
The public accommodation bill did not pass then, resulting in a starve-in in the House gallery. Powers said she did not know her calling until she was 45 years old. After holding over 30 jobs, she knew her life's calling was politics.
Georgia Montgomery Powers became the first black woman elected to the Kentucky State Senate in 1967. When she arrived in Frankfort in 1967 as a newly elected senator, she could not get a room in a hotel as a Black woman. She was also the first Black woman to serve on the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee.
In 1968, Powers was present at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on the morning Dr. King was assassinated. As a senator, she chaired two legislative committees, Health and Welfare (1970-76) and Labor and Industry (1978-88). During her five four-year terms, she pushed for legislation on public accommodations, open housing, and other issues of concern to people of color, women, children, and the poor.
She addressed the dramatic 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and chaired Jesse Jackson's 1984 and 1988 Kentucky presidential campaigns. She fought for the Equal Rights Amendment resolution, the Displaced Homemakers Law, and a law to increase the minimum wage in Kentucky. In 1988, Georgia Montgomery Davis Powers retired from politics.