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U.S. Rep. Scott on magazine's most-influential list

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Born in 1946 on a farm in Aynor, S.C., to parents who worked as domestics, there was little to suggest Congressman David Scott (D-Ga) would grow to become one of the Georgia's most influential politicians.

With a political career spanning nearly 40 years -- the last six of them spent working in the Southern Crescent as the representative of Georgia's 13th Congressional District -- Scott was honored among several leaders in business, politics, arts, and sciences as one of the most influential Georgians of 2008.

Ever since Dollars for Scholars, a Daytona Beach, Fla.-based civic group, put together $300 which helped a much younger Scott purchase a Greyhound bus ticket to attend classes at Florida A&M University, Scott said that God and a lot of people have looked out for him.

"When Georgia Trend [magazine] recognizes David Scott, it recognizes a whole bunch of people who have been supporting me their whole life," said Scott. "If I know nothing else, I know this ... God has had me in his hands all the days of my life. If you look at my life, I could not have survived all that I have had to survive, if I did not have Him with me."

Scott's mother worked as a maid and a cook and his father as a chauffeur and butler. When Scott was five, his parents moved north to work for a rich family in Dalton, Penn., as live-in servants. Scott in turn, moved to nearby Scranton, Penn. where he received his elementary school education, living with his grandmother and grandfather.

When Scott was 11 years old, his parents got a job working as domestics in Scarsdale, N.Y. This time, he was allowed to live in Scarsdale with his parents, and attended middle school there.

In Scarsdale, Scott not only was the only black person in his class, but the only black child receiving education in the city at the time. Scott said it was his time in Scarsdale that taught him the importance of being able to reach across the color divide -- a skill which he said helped him get elected to state senate of Georgia in 1983. He held that office for 20 years. Earlier, he was a state representative for eight years.

At Florida A&M, Scott supported himself with odd jobs and academic scholarships. It was there his life started to take shape. He met his future wife, Alfredia Aaron, the sister of baseball legend, Hank Aaron. After graduation, he attended the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania.

Following his graduation from Wharton in 1969, Scott moved to Atlanta during an eventful time when civil rights and black politics were coming to a boil. He worked for Andrew Young during Young's first campaign for Congress. Four years later, Scott successfully ran for the Georgia House of Representatives and served in that position from 1974 to 1982.

While Scott had the support of influential black leaders, such as Young and Maynard Jackson, he said that he also had the support of influential white progressives, such as former Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen, Jr., media mogul, Ted Turner, the late, former House speaker, Tom Murphy, and former Georgia governor, Carl Sanders.

While working in Georgia politics, Scott has helped Georgians with "kitchen table issues," such as health care, jobs, and economic development. As a legislator, he authored bills which helped prevent the sale of guns to children, denied health insurance companies the right to determine the length of hospital stays for breast cancer sufferers, and limited the number of landfills in the state.

On the Southside, Scott has worked to provide residents with employment and adequate health care by hosting annual job and health fairs in May and August of each year, respectively.

"There's no two greater areas where you can provide for people," said Scott. "The fact that every year we put these two things on, demonstrates leadership in the community where it is needed most.

"People have had their lives saved by these programs," Scott continued. "They can come into Clayton County every year and get examined from head to toe ... and not have to pay a dime out of their pockets. That to me, is remarkable."