Ralph Ellison Portrait Unveiled Thursday

Mar 6, 2014

One of the state's most famous writers is the latest Oklahoman to be honored with a portrait at the state Capitol.

The author of Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison grew up in the Deep Deuce area of Oklahoma City. State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) was among those leading the effort to pay tribute to Ellison. Holt says the new painting honors a man who was much more than a writer.

The portrait of Ralph Ellison unveiled Thursday is part of a yearlong celebration of the author's 100th birthday. He died in 1994.
Credit State Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) / Facebook

"His work was also a force for social change, so he's politically inspiring," Holt says. "It's absolutely appropriate, and probably overdue, that we have this portrait in the Capitol so Oklahomans into perpetuity will understand and appreciate his contribution to American society."

The Oklahoma City Republican said on his Facebook page the Capitol Preservation Commission chose to create a "uniquely Oklahoma" portrait of Ellison, depicting him in front of the Aldridge Theatre with playbills from Oklahoma City and national performers.

The portrait will hang in the fourth floor capitol rotunda along with images of other famous Oklahomans including Will Rogers and Sequoyah.

He won the 1953 National Book Award for the novel Invisible Man, which explored the African-American experience during the early part of the 1900s. His other works include Shadow and Act, Going to the Territory, Juneteenth and Three Days Before the Shooting.


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