Who we hang on our Statehouse walls reflects not just who our leaders have been, but also who we value and what we want our future to look like. There are three women, including former governor Madeline Kunin, among the 400 or so framed pieces displayed in the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier. Until this week there were no people of color honored in our permanent collection.
On May 5, a new portrait was added of Alexander Twilight, the first African American legislator in the U.S. (and in VT). He was also a teacher and pastor. Now, when children and visitors come to the People’s House, they will have a fuller picture of our history.
As a teacher and a grandmother, I have walked through the Statehouse with students and with my granddaughter and lamented that female students and students of color rarely (or never) saw themselves reflected on the walls among of state’s past leaders.
My heart is full with this addition of the first person of color to hang on our Statehouse walls. I believe Twilight, as a fellow teacher of many decades, would be proud to be an inspiration for our current generation of young people who will come to the Statehouse, see him in the entryway, and perhaps imagine one day they could serve here too.
Thank you to state curator David Schultz, Senator Ruth Hardy, the Friends of the State House and so many others who have helped move us in this direction. My House committee is introducing a bill (before the legislature adjourns) which clarifies a Committee on the Statehouse who (among many responsibilities) will work with the Curator to continue movement in this important direction towards a fuller, more diverse representation of all who serve and have served Vermont.
The new portrait is a step towards a more complete representation of our history. It will help all Vermonters, especially our young student visitors, envision that a more diverse future leadership is possible.
I am grateful to be serving in the legislature in this time where we are working together towards a more diverse and inclusive future in our State.
Rep. Michelle Bos-Lun