CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A statue of Esther Hobart Morris had been a prominent feature outside of the Capitol building in Cheyenne for decades.
That was until the statue was moved indoors during recent renovations of the building. The Hobart Morris statue currently resides in the basement hallway that connects the Capitol and Herschler buildings.
Now, some are calling for the statue to make its way out of the garden level of the Capitol and back into the sunlight.
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“We are going to debate and talk about where the Esther Hobart Morris statue should be,” former Wyoming State Senator, Mark Massie said in his opening remarks during a town hall discussion held on Tuesday, December 10.
The discussion was part of a series of events that were being held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming.
That discussion, led by Massie and University of Wyoming professor Renee Laegreid was called “Working Toward Suffrage: A Conversation on Wyoming’s Contribution”.
It detailed the life of Hobart Morris as well as her iconic place in the women’s suffrage movement.
Hobart Morris is well known for her role in promoting women’s suffrage in Wyoming in the 1860’s as well as being the first Justice of The Peace in The United States.
She was appointed to the position in 1870 in South Pass, Wyoming and served a term of almost nine months. (For more info on the life of Esther Hobart Morris visit here.)
The conversation turned to how Wyoming is doing on the question of promoting equal rights for women today. Laegreid explained that while Wyoming has been a symbol of women’s suffrage, it has fallen behind other states when it comes to issues like the wage gap between men and women.
“If you look at the statistics that are coming in, depending on the metrics you are using, we are either at the bottom, the second, the third or fourth from the bottom when it comes to pay equality between men and women,” she said. “Women earn between 26 to 32 cents less on the dollar than men do. We are not where we should be.”
“We started out really great. Now, what do we have to do to live up to our potential?”
The placement of the statue down inside the Capitol was highlighted by Massie and Laegreid as an example of how Wyoming cannot become complacent when it comes to rights for women.
“When you look at Esther’s statue, she’s just not standing there. What is she doing?” Massie asked the audience.
“Striving!” a person from the crowd shouted back.
“Yes, she’s striving.” Massie replied. “She’s walking. And that needs to be a reminder out front of the Capitol. Not only for women and women’s equality but for equality in general. We still have a lot of walking to do.”
On Wednesday, December 11, the Capitol Renovation Building Oversight Group voted to approve funding for the renovation of the Hobart Morris statue. The oversight group oversees ongoing rehabilitation of the Capitol and includes Republican Gov. Mark Gordon, the state treasurer and members of the Legislature.
The Hobart Morris statue in the capitol building extension needs restoration after being struck by cars multiple times in past decades, officials said.
Currently, there are no plans to move the statue back out in front of the Capitol.