In a variation on the People’s Choice Awards, Missouri residents will begin voting on nominees they selected for induction into the Hall of Famous Missourians.
The hall is a gallery of bronze busts in the third-floor rotunda area of the Capitol. It now contains more than 40 inductees, all selected by speakers of the House during their tenures.
In a departure from tradition, Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka, invited Missouri residents to nominate and select two of three additions he intends to make.
His display of populism was, in a word, popular.
It also distanced Jones from a controversy sparked by his predecessor. The induction of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh by former Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, was denounced by some critics, primarily Democrats.
Their displeasure focused on Limbaugh’s characterization of a law student — who testified for a requirement that birth control be included in health insurance coverage — as a “slut” and “prostitute.”
The 10 nominees selected by the the public appear detached from similar controversy.
They include: Claude Smith, a music educator who composed “Flight”; Andrew Taylor Still, founder of the American School of Osteopathy; Rose O’Neill, creator of the cartoon Kewpie; former U.S. Sen. John Henderson, who helped write the 13th Amendment; Virginia Minor, an organizer of the women's suffrage movement in Missouri; John William “Blind” Boone, musician and composer; science-fiction author Robert Heinlein; former Gov. Kit Bond; former state Rep. Sue Shear; and Payne Stewart, professional golfer.
Missourians will be able to vote through Oct. 31 for two new honorees. A third will be selected, according to tradition, solely by the speaker.
Online voting may be done on the Missouri House of Representatives website.
During a time when governments, from federal to local, are being vilified for not representing “the people,” the Hall of Famous Missourians vote marks a welcome diversion.
Copyright Jefferson City News-Tribune. Reprinted with permission.