Margaret E. Morton (257431)

The first African-American woman to sit in Connecticut’s state legislature, Bridgeport’s Margaret E. Morton, has been nominated to the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, reports the CT Post. “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,” state Senator Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport) said at a news conference at the Capitol Thursday (Feb. 22). “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.” In honor of Black History month, the four current African-American women legislators — Moore, state Rep. Patricia Billie Miller (D-Stamford), Rep. Toni Walker (D-New Haven) and Rep. Robyn Porter (D-New Haven) — gathered to remember Morton and her lasting impact. “No matter how massive the mountain, Margaret Morton always found a way to make moves that redefined history,” said 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.” Morton, who died at age 87 in 2012, is the namesake for Bridgeport’s city hall, the Margaret E. Morton Government Center. She protested segregated lunch counters in Bridgeport before running for the House of Representatives in 1972. “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,” said state Representative Patricia Billie Miller (D-Stamford). Morton served four terms in the House and then in 1980, challenged a Democratic incumbent for state senate and won, becoming the first African American woman elected to the state Senate. In her six terms in the state Senate, she rose to the position of Deputy President Pro Tempore. When she retired in 1992, she was the highest ranking Black woman in legislative history.