- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Bidding farewell to Georgia Davis Powers, her family, friends and admirers turned the civil-right icon’s funeral into a celebration of a life that broke down barriers for women and African-Americans.

The service, held Friday at St. Stephen Church in Louisville, included the reading of a letter from President Barack Obama and remembrances from religious leaders, The Courier-Journal (cjky.it/1QiQnDv) reported.

Powers died last Saturday at the age of 92.

Among those attending the funeral were U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Powers was a giant in the fight for civil rights in Kentucky and the first African-American woman elected to the state Senate, where she served for 21 years. During her legislative career, she fought for African-Americans, women, the poor, the disabled and the disenfranchised.

She helped organize civil rights marches in Kentucky, including the 1964 march in Frankfort to bring attention to the need for a law prohibiting discrimination in housing.

The Rev. Regena Thomas, of the Allen AME Church in Atlantic City, N.J., recalled sneaking down to the Kentucky Senate gallery when she was an aide in the House of Representatives to hear Powers speak.

She recalled seeing Powers in a chamber “amongst all of these white men, a woman that was clean, sharp, hair did up real good,” and noted that Powers never left her desk.

“They all came to her,” she recalled. “And she always had this big smile.”

In his remembrance of her, the Rev. Kevin W. Cosby, pastor of St. Stephens, contrasted Powers with a historical figure honored with a statue in the Kentucky Capitol Rotunda.

“It’s interesting that our state will now be known for two Davises: One named Georgia Davis; one named Jefferson Davis,” he said.

“One of them fought a civil war to keep black folk down; one fought for civil rights to lift black folks up. One sought to divide the nation; one sought to unite the nation,” he said. “So I ask our state, which of the two Davises should be in the Rotunda.”

The sanctuary erupted with applause.

___

Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com

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