By Jamie Folsom
Often termed the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” filled the Colorado State Assembly chambers at the capitol in Denver on Wednesday morning as a new legislative session began. A mere 80 years ago, the Assembly had a very different tone, with members of the Ku Klux Klan openly proclaiming their membership and guiding the state’s legislative decisions.
Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff handed over his gavel to 34th Speaker of the House, Rep. Terrance Carroll of Denver, making Colorado the only state in the country to have both houses of its legislative body led by African-Americans.
Terrill was unanimously elected Speaker of the House by acclamation and was welcomed with great applause by his colleagues. He thanked Romanoff for his service to the state, and gifted him with the Speaker’s gavel and sounding block, which was understandably cracked from use during his terms in office.
Wednesday’s momentous opening of the state legislative session also heralds the upcoming inauguration of the nation’s first black president on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C.
Carroll spoke of the strengths we share as a state and a nation. He said, “We represent the diverse fabric of Colorado’s community. A patchwork of unique and wonderful biographies that together make Colorado, like America, different and more magnificent than other societies in history. But that patchwork alone does not make this country great.”
“What makes America great is that the fabric of our community is sewn together by a single thread. That thread is called opportunity.”