Wyoming Arts Council

In Memoriam: Harriet Elizabeth “Liz” Byrd


liz byrd

Harriet Elizabeth “Liz” Byrd. UW file photo.

We join the Byrd family and our colleagues throughout Wyoming in mourning the passing of Liz Byrd.

From today’s Casper Star-Tribune:

Harriett Elizabeth “Liz” Byrd, the first African-American woman to serve in the state Legislature, died Tuesday night in her Cheyenne home, said her son, Rep. Jim Byrd, D-Cheyenne. She was 88.

Liz Byrd served as a Democrat in the House from 1981-88 and in the Senate from 1989-92.

She will be remembered for legislation passed in 1990 — the result of about nine years of work — that established the third Monday in January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Wyoming Equality Day as a state holiday.

On Wednesday afternoon, House Minority Leader Rep. Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne, choked up when she told colleagues of Liz Byrd’s passing. She called her an icon and the House observed a moment of silence in her memory.

“I would ask that you keep the family in our thoughts and prayers,” she said. “She was an incredible woman.”

Gov Matt Mead ordered the state flag be lowered to half-staff at the Capitol and in Laramie County from sunrise to sunset on Monday to honor Liz Byrd.

“Wyoming, the Equality State, takes special pride in those whose courage and leadership contribute to this designation,” Mead said in a statement. “Liz Byrd was a teacher who shaped the lives of many children. She was a leader who demonstrated that each person makes a difference. She was a role model for all people, for women and for Wyoming. I enjoyed her great wit and admired her work. Carol and I join people across the state in mourning her passing. We are thinking of her family.”


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