Other Views: Billy Frank Jr. Statue Belongs in Statehouse, Too


State lawmakers were right last year to honor the late Billy Frank Jr.'s legacy with a statue in the nation's capitol.

They should follow through by installing a similar statue in Washington's statehouse, where it would serve as a daily reminder of the power of tireless persistence in the pursuit of justice and our highest ideals.

Each state is allowed to display two statues in The National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol building. Duplicates of Washington's selections — larger-than-life figures of missionaries Marcus Whitman and Mother Joseph — flank the towering north vestibule of the Washington state Legislative Building. But while lawmakers voted to replace the Whitman bronze with a statue of Frank in the other Washington, they made no such move for its replica in Olympia. They should do so.

Frank, who died in 2014, was an indefatigable activist who fought to save rivers and salmon habitat. He was a skilled coalition-builder; a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient whose unflagging activism drove the state and U.S. governments to honor treaty obligations to Washington tribes.

In a few weeks, the Billy Frank Jr. National Statuary Hall Selection Committee expects to begin discussing the logistics of planning, paying for and installing the new Frank statue in the nation's capitol. State lawmakers should expand the committee's directive to include preparations for a second statue here at home.

Every Washingtonian has benefited from Frank's tireless efforts to advance equality, justice and environmental stewardship. His life's work epitomizes our contemporary values and aspirations. These are among the reasons lawmakers chose his likeness to represent our state in the halls of Congress. State lawmakers and visitors should be able to take similar inspiration in our own house of laws.