The late Margaret E. Morton was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1972. She served four terms, representing Bridgeport. She later won a Democratic primary against an incumbent senator and then went on to win the general election after a lengthy court battle with Bridgeport Democrats.
She served six terms in the Senate, eventually becoming deputy president pro tempore in 1990. She retired in 1992 and died in 2012..
Four current black women legislators — Senator Marilyn Moore, Rep. Patricia Billie Miller, Rep. Toni Walker, and Rep. Robyn Porter — nominated Morton, citing her “quiet determination” to fight prejudice and racism. 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.
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.”
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.”
Rep. Porter called Morton “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.”
“I had the honor and privilege of serving with Margaret,” 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.”
Nominations to the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame are accepted on an ongoing basis and reviewed by their Consulting Scholars Committee. 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.