Walking through the state Capitol, visitors will find an array of portraits commemorating various Oklahomans who have made their mark on both the state and the nation. However some say one Oklahoman has been overlooked for too long.
A portrait of Oklahoma City native and author of the widely acclaimed novel “Invisible Man,” Ralph Ellison is long overdue, said Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City. Holt is leading an effort to change that.
“If you look around our floor, there are other portraits of obviously famous Oklahomans, including famous African Americans,” Holt said. “So, it's just kind of a mystery to me why Ralph Ellison got sort of overlooked.”
Holt took a class on Ellison's work while attending George Washington University in Washington, and he said that not only did he learn a lot about his hometown, but he also grew to appreciate Ellison's work and influence.
Holt said that most of the money for the portrait has been raised, and Tracy Harris, a local artist with portraits already hanging in the state Capitol, has been commissioned for the painting.
He added that the goal of the piece is to showcase to his fellow Oklahomans that anything is possible, no matter where you come from.
“Anytime I've been involved in namings, whether it's Flaming Lips Alley or Wanda Jackson Way or a portrait of Ralph Ellison, that's always my goal,” Holt said. “Honoring them is the secondary purpose. The primary purpose is to inspire everyone else to reach the heights that those people have.”
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