New push to return Wallace portrait to AL Capitol rotunda

State Auditor Jim Zeigler says the late Alabama Gov. Lurleen Wallace's portrait should be...
State Auditor Jim Zeigler says the late Alabama Gov. Lurleen Wallace's portrait should be returned to the Capitol rotunda. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: May. 1, 2018 at 12:58 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler is continuing his efforts to have the portrait of the state's first female governor moved back to the Capitol rotunda.

Gov. Lurleen Wallace's portrait, along with that of her husband, Gov. George Wallace, was moved closer to the building's main entrance in 2015.

Ziegler says a resolution from lawmakers in 1993 states the painting should have never been moved.

"'The official portrait of Lurleen B. Wallace is of such significant historic importance that it shall be displayed in the center rotunda of the first floor of the state capitol from this date henceforth.' That is clear as can be," Zeigler said. "It does not give any room for misinterpretation."

The paintings were moved by the Alabama Historical Commission in Feb. 2015, around the time of the theatrical release of 'Selma' and the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Zeigler claimed the actions were taken as a matter of "historical revisionism", something the AHC has strongly denied.

The AHC has previously stated that the portraits were relocated to create room for a portrait of then-sitting Gov. Robert Bentley, and that a portrait's relocation should not be seen as any sort of commentary.

Further, the AHC has pushed back on Zeigler's claims the portraits can't legally be moved, stating legislative resolutions are requests or suggestions and that they are not legally binding.

With Zeigler's renewed efforts, the AHC once again reiterated its position:

"The Alabama Historical Commission, in collaboration with the Department of Finance, works to preserve the historic and architectural integrity of the Alabama State Capitol, our seat of government and a working museum of state history and politics.

In order to give visitors an accurate and easily understandable view of Alabama history, the portraits of Alabama governors hang in specific places. For example, the first-floor rotunda exhibits the portraits of the first four governors. In the north and south wings and Supreme Court Library, the portraits hang in chronological order. The Wallace portraits hang with the other mid to late twentieth century governors in the south wing, showing history as a continuum.

Governor George Wallace and Governor Lurleen Wallace are historically significant figures at both the state and national level. The current location of their portraits does not diminish this fact."

Lurleen Wallace died while in office on May 7, 1968. A ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of her death will take place on May 7 at 1:15 p.m. on the first floor of the rotunda.

Copyright 2018 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.