Erin Holaday

UK to House Georgia Powers Collections, Chair

Published: Dec 3, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 3, 2010) — The University of Kentucky announced today that it will house important papers and interviews related to former Kentucky state Sen. Georgia Powers.

Additionally, the university will also endow a chair in the name of the trailblazing legislator and civil rights icon as part of UK’s Center for Research on Violence Against Women. Powers became the first African-American and the first woman to hold a seat in the Kentucky  Senate in 1968.

"The importance of Sen. Powers is found not just in what she did, but in what she continues to inspire us to do. Her work and her point of view are as contemporary today as they were when she first pushed for justice and civil rights in the journey taken through the civil rights movement," said UK Provost Kumble Subbaswamy. "With the collections and endowed chair, the University of Kentucky will capture Senator Powers’ history and hold up her story as an inspiration to the next generation. With these steps, we move in a direction we know Senator Powers would want us to go: we will directly improve the lives of Kentucky families."

Starting with her first bill for a statewide fair housing law, Powers carved out a 21-year career fighting for civil rights legislation that prohibited sex, job and age discrimination.

Researchers for years to come will be able to study the impact Powers had not only in Louisville and her home state of Kentucky, but as a leader in the nation's civil rights movement through two new collections being donated to the UK Libraries consisting of the legislator's papers and a selection of oral history interviews.

"The Georgia Powers oral histories and archival papers will document the life and career of an important Kentucky woman," said Associate Dean of Special Collections Deirdre Scaggs. "It highlights her involvement in the Kentucky civil rights movement, her career as a senator, and her experiences as a black woman. The Powers collection is important for Kentucky history, for the history of women, and the history of African-Americans — these materials will be used by interdisciplinary scholars of United States history, politics, gender and race." 

The papers donated to UK Libraries will encompass more than 2,000 newspaper clippings, photos, speeches and legal pads filled with the legislator's handwritten thoughts.

Sen. Powers' oral history interviews, the Georgia Davis Powers Oral History Project, supplement her written memoir and offer new information about her life and work. The collection documents the powerful role she played in affecting public policy as she pushed for legislation on public accommodations and open housing. Powers fought for the Equal Rights Amendment resolution and the Displaced Homemaker's Law. The most recent interviews were conducted by historian Gerald Smith who played a crucial role in acquiring Senator Powers' papers and strengthening her relationship with UK Libraries. This collection, housed in the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, will be restricted for a period of time.

"We won’t truly appreciate the magnitude of this donation until 20-30 years from now," said Smith, an associate professor of history and co-editor of the Kentucky African American Encyclopedia. "Scholars and students will have another window into understanding Kentucky's political history as well as the people, places, and events which shaped the civil rights movement in America."

In addition to the donations of materials to UK Libraries, the university will also become home to the Georgia Davis Powers Endowed Chair. This is the fourth chair created by the Center for Research on Violence Against Women and will focus on multicultural studies of violence against women and the unique experiences of women of color.

All women are at risk of abuse, but certain populations in the U.S. and around the world are often at greater risk. "Culture, race, and ethnicity — these things matter to whether or not you experience violence and what you do in response," said Carol Jordan, director of the Center for Research on Violence Against Women. "These issues are so important; we thought that they required their own chair. And we wanted to use this opportunity to add a chair as well as honor an extraordinary woman."

The Georgia Davis Powers Endowment will affirm the importance of addressing race, ethnicity, and other socio-cultural factors in the study of violence against women.

Powers was more than willing to lend her name to such a worthy area of research. "Senator Powers connects with the work of our center, because she's a survivor of things that our center works for," noted Jordan. "She works on behalf of women and works for women. With that in mind, she fits completely with what we’re trying to do."

UK will hold a national search for the appropriate scholar, who will research and teach, but also exist as a fulcrum for a diverse range of research at UK. The Center for Research on Violence Against Women is establishing a $1 million endowment to support the Georgia Davis Powers Chair. Having already raised $720,000, the center will raise an additional $280,000 by the end of 2011 for the Georgia Davis Powers Endowment.

The announcement with Powers came on the heels of her presentation Dec. 2 as part of UK African American Studies and Research Program's "Fall 2010 Dialogues on Race Film Series: Sisters in the Struggle." The event, facilitated by Eleanor Jordan, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Women, gave UK students an opportunity to watch an oral history with Powers from the Kentucky Oral History Commission. Students then were able to ask her about how she feels about the published piece collected more than a decade earlier. This year’s "Dialogues on Race" were organized in concert with a course led by Randolph Hollingsworth, assistant provost for Integrated Academic Services. Watch this oral history with Powers online on KET's website at

In addition to the new oral history and archival collections being donated by Senator Powers, UK Libraries is home to three other oral histories with the state legislator. Powers was previously participated in the Nunn Center's "Blacks in Lexington Project" and "Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project." Both collections are open to the public. 

One of nine children, Powers was born Oct. 19, 1923, in Springfield, Ky. A civil rights movement leader in the Commonwealth, she was one of the organizers of the 1964 Civil Rights March on Frankfort in support of a law that would make public accommodations accessible to all, regardless of race. That same year, Powers became the first black woman to serve on the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee. As senator, she chaired two legislative committees, Health and Welfare (1970-76) and Labor and Industry (1978-88). Powers also served as chair of the Reverend Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign twice.

Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference
Oct 20
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester 10/20/2014
Reset Page