Tag Archives: Kentucky

Breaking Barriers: Kentucky’s First Female African American Senator, Georgia Davis Powers

Kathy Groob, former elected city council member, publisher of ElectWomen Magazine, and partner at November Strategies political consulting firm contributed this inspiring article about Georgia Davis Powers, the first woman and first African American elected to the Kentucky state senate. It’s the first of a number of Women’s History Month guest posts I’m excited to share with 9 Ways readers.

At the time, Georgia Davis Powers had no idea she had made history in 1968 by becoming the first woman AND the first African-American elected to Kentucky’s State Senate. All she knew was that she wanted to make a difference in her community.

It was never her intention to become a politician, or even to work in government, but in the spring of 1962 Powers was introduced to politics upon the suggestion of fellow church member Verna Smith. Upon Ms. Smith’s advice she joined the U.S. Senatorial campaign staff of Wilson Wyatt. This led to six more years of managing mayoral, gubernatorial, and congressional campaigns. She also became heavily involved in the civil rights movement, leading the Allied Organization for Civil Rights in promoting statewide public accommodations and fair employment law in the early 1960’s. In 1964, she was one of the organizers of a march on the capital in Frankfort in support of equity in public accommodations, in which Dr. Martin Luther King and baseball legend Jackie Robinson participated.

In 1964 she was the first black woman elected to the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee. But after two years she resigned after becoming discouraged by the fact that the Committee had not discussed a single one of her proposals.

In 1966 she worked in the bill room during the legislative session for the Kentucky House of Representatives. This gave her the opportunity to see first hand how government functioned; as a result her political ambitions grew.

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Copyright 2010 Gloria Feldt