Thursday, February 4, 2016

Remembering civil rights icons through oral history and archives

Georgia Davis Powers (Photo by the Louisville Courier-Journal)
Two icons of the civil rights struggle in Kentucky died recently: Senator Georgia Davis Powers and Judge Ben Shobe. The Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History had previously recorded interviews with both Senator Powers and Judge Shobe.

Senator Powers was both the first woman and the first African-American to serve in the Kentucky Senate from 1968 to 1989.  Senator Powers was also one of the organizers of the 1964 March for Freedom on the state capital in Frankfort.

Judge Ben Shobe, right, takes the oath of office
(Photo by the Louisville Courier-Journal)
An accomplished trial lawyer, Judge Shobe became one of the first African-American judges in Kentucky.  He previously worked with attorney and future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall on the successful legal effort to admit Lyman Johnson to UK as the first African-American student.  

Nunn Center Director Dr. Doug Boyd spoke to WUKY about Powers on this week’s episode of “Saving Stories.” The audio is available online. You can find more information on the UK Libraries Notable Kentucky African-American Database. Photos of Powers from civil rights history in Kentucky also appear in the Jim Curtis photograph collection on ExploreUK.

UK Libraries Special Collections Research Center is home to the papers of Georgia Davis Powers. The collection is approximately 10 cubic feet and dates from 1949-2011. It should be fully processed and available later in 2016. 

Included in the collection are scrapbooks, manuscript drafts, speeches, notebooks, research materials, correspondence, subject files, audio cassettes, photographs, and ephemera relating to her political career, social activism, and publications. The scrapbooks and scrapbook pages chronicle her time serving in the Kentucky state senate as well as her involvement in the civil rights movement.

The collection additionally contains documents relating to Senator Powers' political career and continued advocacy for equal rights, particularly through the Louisville Branch of the NAACP. Her writings and research materials relate primarily to her publications, Celia’s Land and The Adventures of the Book Revelation, A Bible Prophecy, as well as extensive biographical notes. Her notepads chronicle her daily activities and thoughts from 1995-2008 and her correspondence is of both a personal and professional nature.

The Nunn Center’s video interview with Judge Shobe is available in the Nunn Center’s SPOKEdB system.

1 comment:

  1. Georgia Powers was the first African-American and the first African-American woman to serve in the Kentucky Senate. She was not the first woman to serve in that chamber.