On May 25, 2022

First state portrait of Vermonter of color heads to State House

The unveiling of Middlebury artist Katie Runde’s life-size portrait of the first U.S. college graduate and U.S. state representative of African descent, Alexander Lucius Twilight (1795-1857), in the Vermont State House marks a new chapter in Vermont history.

Portrait by Katie Runde

Twilight was the principal of a coed grammar school and the pastor in Brownington between 1829-47 and 1853-55. While almost all portraits in the State House depict white men of considerable means and/or military prowess, Twilight brings with him not only the first representation of a person of color, but also of a radically different kind of power: not of domination, but of service and relationship. This marks a profound societal paradigmatic shift.

At the unveiling earlier this month, remarks were made by Gov. Phil Scott; Lt. Gov Molly Gray; William Hart, Middlebury College Professor emeritus; David Schutz, VermontsState curator; Reps. Hal Colston and Kevin “Coach” Christie; Sens. Kesha Ram Hinsdale and Randy Brock; Chris Graff, former National Life Group vice president; Xusana Davis, curatorial task force for the State House; Carmen Jackson, Bob Hunt and Molly Veysey with the Old Stone House Museum and Historic Village in Brownington.

While the unveiling has passed, the impact of this portrait is just beginning.

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