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Smithsonian national gallery to house L. Douglas Wilder portrait

Work Unveiled during Wilder’s 10th Inauguration Anniversary at VCU

A portrait of L. Douglas Wilder – the nation’s first-elected African-American governor and now distinguished professor at Virginia Commonwealth University – has been accepted by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. The 50-inch by 34-inch oil painting was created by Richmond artist and VCU alumna Loryn Brazier.

The portrait was unveiled at a Jan. 20 reception commemorating the 10th anniversary of Wilder’s historic inauguration. The event was held at VCU’s Stuart C. Siegel Center and was hosted by Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III and VCU President Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D.

More than 650 guests attended the Wilder tribute, including former Virginia governors George E. Allen (1994-98); Gerald L. Baliles (1986-90); and former governor (1982-86) and current U.S. Sen. Charles S. Robb. Additional guests present were: U.S. Rep. Robert C. Scott; Lt. Gov. John H. Hager; Attorney General Mark L. Earley; former Secretary of Education James W. Dyke Jr.; Virginia Black Caucus chair Jerrauld C. Jones and Richmond City Mayor Timothy M. Kaine.

Sworn in as the nation’s first African-American governor on Jan. 13, 1990, Wilder served as Virginia’s 65th chief executive for four years. Wilder’s first historic mark in 1969 was when he was elected Virginia’s first black senator -- a post he was elected to for five consecutive terms. From 1985-89, Wilder served as Virginia’s first African-American lieutenant governor.

Born on Jan. 17, 1931, Wilder was raised in Richmond by his parents, Robert Judson Wilder, a son of slaves, and Beulah Olive Richards, who was born to freed African-Americans in Charles City County, Va.

Following the 10th anniversary celebration, the portrait was taken to the National Portrait Gallery. The gallery, which houses more than 18,000 images in its collection, is currently closed because of renovations. It is scheduled to re-open in summer 2003.