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Georgia Davis Powers

Source: Georgia Davis Powers / KY Civil Rights Hall of Fame Oral History Project

Sadly, we have lost another great one.

Georgia Davis Powers, a Civil Rights leader and the first Black person and first woman to be elected into state Senate, passed away in her brother’s home in Louisville, Kentucky, ABC News reported. The 92-years old died of congestive heart failure.

Powers was often regarded as the mother of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky fighting for issues around racial equality, housing fairness and workers’ rights.

In 1963, she spearheaded the March on Frankfort, “which brought 10,000 people — including King, baseball legend Jackie Robinson and folksingers Peter, Paul and Mary — to the Capitol steps to demand legislation banning discrimination in public accommodations,” the Kentucky Herald-Leader wrote.

By 1967, Powers was first elected in the state Senate where she served for 21 years helping pass some of the state’s most progressive legislation.

“She was fighting for equality for all people while I was still fighting for my first Golden Gloves title,” boxing legend Muhammad Ali told ABC News. He added, “Senator Powers leaves behind a rich legacy of civic engagement and social justice.”

Friends and colleagues remember the politician, who fought tirelessly “for African-Americans, women, the poor, the disabled [and] the disenfranchised,” as being utterly fearless.

“Clearly, she was not afraid to ask difficult questions and seek solutions to problems involving race, class or gender,” said Gerald Smith, a University of Kentucky history professor, who interviewed Powers for a project on her in 2010, told The Kentucky Herald-Leader.

Kentucky State Sen. Gerald Neal told ABC News, “She walked into the Legislature, a man’s world, a white man’s world, and she did not waver…She asked no quarter and gave no quarter.”

Born in 1923, the only daughter of nine children, Powers understood racism at a very early age. When she was a teenager, she quit her job at a five and dime store that turned away Black patrons from sitting at the counter.

“I didn’t like it. I knew it was going on and I always wondered what could be done about it. And in my young mind I couldn’t think of anything to do about it,” she said in a past interview.

Her legacy will continue to be felt.

And like most people, Powers’ life wasn’t void of controversy.

For years it was rumored that she had been lovers with her close friend Martin Luther King Jr., which she later confirmed in her 1989 memoir, I Shared the Dream: The Pride, Passion and Politics of the First Black Woman Senator From Kentucky.

On Monday, Feb. 1, the flags at Metro Hall in Louisville will be lowered in honor of the civil rights and political icon. 

Rest in power Georgia.

[SOURCES: ABC News, Lexington Herald-Leader]

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