An elementary school in Maine’s largest city has been named for the state’s first African-American legislator.
The former Riverton School formally became the Gerald E. Talbot Community School during a ceremony on Monday.
Portland Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana said that with the new name “we continue your work by tirelessly removing those barriers to opportunity for all of our students, and giving them the tools they need to continue to change the world for the better.”
Talbot, 89, said he was humbled by the honor. He talked to students about the value of education, and urged all people to help others to show that “we all matter.”
“Whether you’re black or white, or green or red, we’re all people and we all need the same thing — equality,” he said.
Talbot is an educator, veteran, civil rights activist and founding president of Portland’s NAACP branch. He became the first African American to be elected to the Maine Legislature in 1972 and also served as chair of the Maine State Board of Education.
Monday’s event fell on the birthday of one of Talbot’s daughters, Rachel Talbot Ross, who currently serves in the Legislature. Like her dad, she has served as a leader of Portland NAACP.