News release from State Senator Marilyn Moore:
In celebration of Black History Month, Connecticut’s four current African American women legislators Senator Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport), Rep. Patricia Billie Miller (D-Stamford), Rep. Toni Walker (D-New Haven), and Rep. Robyn Porter (D-New Haven)–nominated Margaret E. Morton, the first African American woman to sit in the state legislature, to the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame. Joined by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp, they also emphasized the need for more women of color in government.
“Margaret Morton laid the groundwork for me to stand where I am today–the third black woman ever to be elected to the Connecticut Senate,” Sen. Moore said. “Margaret knew that being the only black woman in the legislature meant she had an added responsibility to serve as a mentor to the men and women of color who would come after her. She broke down barriers and became a leader at the State Capitol. She is a true role model to women across the state.”
“It is my honor to stand in support of the late Margaret E. Morton’s nomination to the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame for her extraordinary service in state government and her commitment to advancing the priorities of our communities of color,” Rep. Miller said. “Ms. Morton’s accomplishments are even more laudable today, because back in 1972 when she was elected to the House of Representatives, being a woman of color running for office was not as common as it is in this day and age. Her resolve, integrity and dedication during her service still inspire us to keep serving with pride and honor as we continue working toward a better future for our constituencies.”
“The late Margaret Morton was a phenomenal role model for all women in the Connecticut General Assembly. She was a force to be reckoned with, who always exercised her power on behalf of her constituents and the community at large. No matter how massive the mountain, Margaret Morton always found a way to make moves that redefined history,” said Rep. Porter. “While this Queen Matriarch put down the roots and carried the torch for a more equitable future, I feel a personal calling in my spirit to carry on her legacy, and that calling has only been further solidified in discovering that we both were sworn in at the age of 48 with a passion for people and a tremendous love for God and community.”
“I had the honor and privilege of serving with Margaret. She was a powerful woman and legislator, one who set a high standard and served as an example for all of us,” said Lt. Governor Wyman. “Her nomination to the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame speaks to her accomplishments and her legacy. Margaret’s story and her work continue to inspire–offering the next generations a reason to get involved in government and public service, to run for office, and to make their voices heard.”
“I’m quite sure no one in this room second-guesses the value of role models in the development of Connecticut’s future leaders, but in the African American community, there’s a dearth of outstanding role models because they were omitted from so many history lessons and overlooked when positions of prominence became vacant,” Mayor Harp said. “The pattern of omission and oversight is only amplified when the conversation is about African American women, so those of us gathered today want to provide as much momentum as possible for Senator Morton’s induction.”
Calling on Women of Color to Get Involved in Government Service
As the first African American woman elected to the state legislature, Margaret Morton laid the foundation for other women of color to serve as a voice for their residents. But it is up to Connecticut’s current and future female leaders to carry out her legacy. To ensure that every issue facing women–regardless of their age or race–is represented at the Capitol, it is vital that more women of color run and are elected to state office. By having an elected group of lawmakers that is a true reflection of the demographics they represent, the legislature can begin to address issues in a more equitable and fair way.
The CT Women’s Hall of Fame Induction Process
Nominations to the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame are accepted on an ongoing basis and reviewed by their Consulting Scholars Committee. Each year, the Consulting Scholars select a theme for the Induction Ceremony and create a slate of nominees for approval by the Board of Trustees. Qualified candidates may or may not be inducted in the year in which they are nominated, but all nominations are kept on file for future consideration.