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This Day in Georgia History

February 24, 1932

Zell Miller Born

Georgia politician Zell Miller was born in Young Harris, Georgia. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Miller graduated from the University of Georgia with a Masters degree in history in 1958 - subsequently completing two years of coursework on a PhD. He would teach at the University of Georgia, Young Harris College, DeKalb Community College, and Emory University. Miller also served as mayor of his hometown of Young Harris (1960-63) before being serving as state senator (1961-64). Miller served as a member of several state boards (1964-66, 1973), executive secretary to the governor (1969-71), executive secretary to the lieutenant governor (1971), and executive director of the Georgia Democratic Party (1971-73). In 1974 Miller was elected lieutenant governor, and in that capacity presided over the Georgia Senate for sixteen years. In November 1990, Miller was elected governor, taking office the following January. Miller’s administration will probably best be remembered for securing a state lottery program for education - and in particular his lottery-funded HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarship program - which gained national publicity. After his eight years as governor, Miller returned to higher education, teaching first at Emory University and Young Harris College, and then at the University of Georgia. After the death of Georgia Sen. Paul Coverdell in 2000, Gov. Roy Barnes appointed Miller to fill the vacancy until the next general election. In Nov. 2000, Miller was elected to serve the remainder of Sen. Coverdell’s term. Miller served in the U.S. Senate until January 2005, choosing not to run for a full six-year term. After his term ended, Miller returned to Georgia, where he wrote a A Deficit of Decency.