Georgia Davis Powers was the first woman and African-American elected to the Kentucky State Senate and was a tireless advocate for fair housing and equal employment rights. Powers, who died last month, also came to national prominence after she admitted to having an affair with civil rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Born Georgia Montgomery on October 19, 1923, the future senator was raised primarily in Louisville as one of nine siblings and the only girl born to her parents. Powers married Norman Davis when she was just 20 years old. She had no interest in politics but that changed when a friend from church asked her to join some local election campaigns.
Powers discovered a passion for political campaigns and worked closely with the state’s Democratic Party. While doing so, Powers became interested in the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. She made her focus worker equity, fair pay and other related issues which eventually led her to meet Dr. King during one of his nationwide rallies in 1964.
As she revealed in her 1995 autobiography, I Shared The Dream, Powers, who married James Powers in 1973, stated she began an affair with King in 1967. Powers was with Dr. King during his assassination in Memphis, Tenn. on April 4, 1968. Although some leaders close to King tried to discredit her, others, such as Rev. Ralph Abernathy, said the affair did indeed take place.
Powers was elected to the Kentucky Senate in 1968 and served until 1989. She was a beloved figure in and around Louisville, and earned a reputation as a fair politician.
Powers died on Jan. 30 at the age of 92 in Louisville.