You are browsing the archive for Kentucky Civil Rights Act.

Kentucky Black Heritage now online

June 20, 2013 in 1960s-1970s, Historiography, Primary source

Mrs. W.H. Faus, circa 1944

Mrs. W.H. Faus of Lexington, holding a certificate of appointment to serve on the KY Commission for the Study of Negro Affairs, created in 1944 by Gov. Simean Willis.

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights recently announced that its out-of-print history reference book, Kentucky’s Black Heritage: The Role of the Black People in the History of Kentucky from Pioneer Days to the Present (1971), can now be downloaded in its entirety from the Commission’s website. The Commission had charged a committee of prestigious scholars – including one woman and several men of color – and support staff to create it as a textbook supplement for Kentucky junior high school history courses. Only five years before, in 1966, the Kentucky Civil Rights Act had passed. The book is free and now widely available to the public.

Filled with photographs and profiles of many African Americans in the history of Kentucky from pioneer days through the 1960s, the book is still an interesting resource for us to use today. Though few passages in the book refer to women, there are some key points that make the book still valuable, especially for those of us searching for ways to craft a more inclusive narrative about Kentucky’s history.

It was common all through the Civil Rights Era to overlook and to forget to document women’s participation in the Movement – and this book was compiled and published just as Black Power and the feminist movements were taking off.  This booklet is no exception even though its purpose was to correct the wrongs of discrimination and exclusivity in traditional, mainstream histories.

The Kentucky Black History Committee for the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights were listed at the back of the book (pp. 141-144). There were 15 African-American and 2 white members:

  • Dr. Eleanor Y. Alsbrook

    Dr. Eleanor Young Alsbrook, KY Black History Committee

    Dr. Eleanor Young Alsbrook (daughter of Whitney Young, Sr.), assistant professor and assistant dean, University of Louisville

  • Dr. Rufus B. Atwood, President-Emeritus, Kentucky State College
  • Dr. Henry E. Cheaney, professor and chair of Afro-American Studies, Kentucky State College
  • Mr. Charles Franklin Hinds, Director of Libraries, Murray State University
  • Mr. Lyman T. Johnson, Assistant Principal, Manly Junior High School, and Treasurer of Louisville NAACP
  • Mr. Howitt C. Mathis, Superintendent, West KY State Vocational-Technical School (Paducah)
  • Mr. James O’Rourke, Head Librarian, Kentucky State College
  • Dr. Charles H. Parrish, professor-emeritus at University of Louisville, acting chair of Division of Social Sciences, Lincoln University
  • Dr. William H. Perry, Jr., Grand Sec’y of Prince Hall Grand Lodge, F.& A.M. of Kentucky; Deputy for Kentucky, the United Supreme Council, 33 degree, Southern Jurisdiction
  • Mr. Alvin M. Seals, assistant professor, Kentucky State College and President of Lexington Montessori Society
  • Mr. Frank B. Simpson, assistant superintendent, Jefferson County Schools
  • Tava Taylor

    Tava Taylor, staff support for KY Black History Comm.

    Mr. Maurice Strider, assistant professor, Morehead State University

  • Dr. Rhea A. Taylor, associate professor, University of Kentucky
  • Dr. George D. Wilson, professor emeritus, Kentucky State College
  • Dr. Whitney M. Young, Sr., President-Emeritus, Lincoln Institute
  • Miss Tava Taylor, student at Kentucky State College
  • Miss Charlotte Dunne, student at Eastern Kentucky University

The three women who were on the Committee probably felt tremendous pride in getting the book out at all.  I can’t help but wonder, though, if any one of them had wished for more information on women’s history to include in the book.  It may have changed some of the narrative as well when expressing the history of an event or series of events from a woman’s perspective too.

Charlotte Dunne

Charlotte Dunne, staff support for KY Black History Comm.

In addition to these women, the acknowledgements (p. 145) showed that more women scholars were involved in the creation of the booklet.  Librarian Jacqueline P. Bull (director of Special Collections and Archives) at the University of Kentucky, Mrs. Amelia Buckley of Keeneland Racetrack Library, Librarian Elizabeth Gilbert of the Hutchins Library at Berea College as well as Barbara Miller from the Louisville Free Public Library are thanked for helping the Committee members with information and archival materials.  Mrs. Charles Farnsley of the Lost Cause Press, Mrs. Lillie Gleaves of the Jefferson County Department of Welfare are also mentioned for helping to research facts and aiding the Committee in acquiring many of the rare pictures published in this book.

It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on how these women worked to create the book – and to wonder if they had been able to craft a different book than the one we now have in our possession.

 

 

 

 

by dawn

A Lady with Gumption

October 8, 2010 in 1950s-1960s, 1960s-1970s, Political history, Social history

Georgia Davis Powers was born in a two room wooden shack to Ben and Frances Montgomery. She was born in Springfield, Kentucky. Georgia’s parents did not have a high school education her parents expected her to get married and start a family and that is it.

She was once told by one of her mother’s friends that she was going to grow up and be just like her mother and have a house full of kids. Georgia was furious knowing that was not what she wanted and thought to herself “ How do you know what I’m going to do when I don’t even know yet myself? I do know I’m not gonna be just a house wife with a house full of kids, though!” (I Shared the Dream, 46)

Senator Georgia Davis Powers, 1968

Senator Georgia Davis Powers, 1968, from KET "Living the Story" Picture Gallery

She first got involved with politics when she was hired to help with Wilson Wyatt’s campaign.  Next she became a leader within the Allied Organization for Civil Rights (AOCR), whose purpose was to lobby for a law against discrimination in places of public accommodation. With AOCR she helped organize a march on Frankfort which was attended by both Jackie Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964 to support the passing of this law.

Powers became further involved with politics when she was elected in to the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee. She was then appointed chairman of the Women’s Committee.

In 1966 she decided to campaign to become a Kentucky senator. She was able to get full endorsement from the previous senator Norbert Blume. She ran for Louisville District thirty three that was 65% white. Powers won the primary and then the Senate seat.  Powers was the first African-American (man or woman) elected to the Kentucky Senate. Powers stated before she became a senator that she would like to show that she could do what was good for all people.(I Shared the Dream, 132)

The woman had gumption and nerve not backing down on what she believed in. She was able to pass an open house bill. She proposed and amendment to the Kentucky Civil Rights Act to prevent discrimination in the work force based on age or sex.

Georgia Davis Powers is a wonderful woman. She is humorous and does not let anyone keep her down. She fought for what she believed in. Powers was a real person who has faults but was strong. She started off small as a community leader working for campaigns getting to know the people in her community and the leaders. Powers then saw that she could make a difference and she set out to do it even though it seemed such a daunting challenge. She had gumption and did what she thought was right regardless of what people thought.

~~~~

Powers, Georgia Davis. I Shared The Dream. New Jersey: New Horizon Press, 1995.

Skip to toolbar