VOICES: Dayton can take pride in seeing Rhine McLin honored within Statehouse halls

As we reflect on Black History Month and welcome the beginning of Women’s History Month, the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus is pleased to share a celebration we recently held to honor one of our former members. This week, we proudly unveiled a portrait of former state Senator and Mayor of Dayton Rhine McLin in the Minority Conference Room of the Ohio Statehouse, whose service we commemorated with a dedication ceremony attended by Ohio public officials of the past and present.

A proud Daytonian and a trailblazer in Ohio politics, Senator McLin made history in 1994 by becoming the first African American woman elected to the Ohio Senate. In 2002, she built on her legacy by becoming the first female mayor of Dayton. A champion of legislation to protect her most vulnerable constituents, Senator McLin’s peers in the General Assembly recognized her leadership and elected her Minority Whip twice before she made history again as the first African American woman to serve as Senate Minority Leader.

Senator McLin’s commitment to public service went beyond individual achievements. During her time in public service, she fought for legislation to strengthen protections for victims of domestic violence, keep children from coming in contact with dangerous individuals, and reduce incidents of medical malpractice. Her passion for justice and equality was evident in her support for these measures.

The dedication of her portrait is both a celebration of her mark on Ohio politics and an expression of our caucus’s commitment to ensuring Ohio’s political history is inclusive and reflective of its diverse population. The Minority Conference Room, a space where decisions affecting all Ohioans are discussed and debated, now features a tribute to Senator McLin’s groundbreaking achievements and contributions to her community. Dayton can take pride in seeing another one of its own honored within the Statehouse halls.

Senator McLin’s legacy extends beyond her individual accomplishments. She has inspired countless individuals who view her as a role model, and her portrait serves as a reminder that our strength as a state comes from our ambition, tenacity, compassion, and array of perspectives. As Maya Angelou said, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”

So, as we look back on Black History Month and celebrate Women’s History Month, let us recognize the progress we’ve made and continue to strive for more just governance.

Ohio Sen. Nickie J. Antonio represents the 23rd district.

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