The influence of these two brothers on city and state government is far-reaching. But, even greater, is the way they conducted themselves with dignity and intelligence through difficult times. They easily are two of the most-respected people who ever came out of Augusta's black community.
Benjamin Linton Dent, better known as "B.L.," is credited with being the first black person in Georgia to take advantage of changes and the new political mood brought by the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. He took the oath of office in 1965 for the Augusta City Council and became the first black elected official of any city government in Georgia since Reconstruction.
His business sense was legendary, and he successfully operated a furniture store on what became Laney-Walker Boulevard.
Richard Algernon Dent, often called "Papa Dent," in 1966 became the first black person elected from Richmond County to the Georgia House of Representatives since Reconstruction and served 16 years in the Georgia General Assembly. He became a prominent businessman with his own tile company, R.A. Dent Floor Coverings, on 12th street.
In 1975, Richard Dent became the first black chairman of a state House committee (the Human Resources and Aging Committee) since Reconstruction. The next year, he was the unanimous choice by other members of Richmond County's legislative delegation to serve as delegation chairman. He held that position without challenge until his retirement from the House seven months before his death.
Richard died Oct. 1, 1982, at age 77, and B.L. died two years later on Dec. 21, 1984, at age 72.