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Merlene Davis: Former legislator receives endowed chair, gives papers to UK

UK provost Kumble Subbaswamy, left, talked with former State Senator Georgia Powers at a ceremony announcing the chair named for her at The Center for Research on Violence Against Women.
UK provost Kumble Subbaswamy, left, talked with former State Senator Georgia Powers at a ceremony announcing the chair named for her at The Center for Research on Violence Against Women.

During the turbulent civil rights movement in Kentucky, then-state Sen. Georgia Davis Powers persuaded, cajoled and pushed her white male counterparts to pass legislation that helped the state's children, women, African-Americans and needy.

For that work, Powers, 87, was honored Friday at the University of Kentucky with an endowed chair established in her name, and by school officials who welcomed her papers.

Powers' chair will be in the Center for Research on Violence Against Women. The $1 million endowment will be used to study violence against women of color.

Powers said the chair was a surprise and an honor.

"I've had a long life and I've enjoyed what I've done," she said. "I wasn't thinking about a legacy. I was on a mission and I will fight until the end of my life for equality."

UK Provost Kumble Subbaswamy called Powers a "lamp-lighter" who was concerned with those "who had little power and needed her the most."

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