FRANKFORT — A bust of the state's first black Supreme Court justice was unveiled Thursday as part of a Black History Month celebration.
The bust of the late Justice William E. McAnulty is the first sculpture of a black public official in the Capitol. The sculpture will be housed on the second floor in the entryway to the Supreme Court chambers.
Gov. Steve Beshear, legislative leaders and Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. paid tribute to McAnulty during a Capitol Rotunda ceremony.
The Louisville lawyer became the state's first black judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1988 and was the first black person to serve on the state's highest court when he was appointed to an open position in June 2006. He was later elected to the seat for a full-eight year term but died of cancer in 2007.
McAnulty started his career on the bench as a juvenile court judge in Jefferson County in 1975.
Beshear praised McAnulty not only for his leadership on the bench and in the community, but also for his warm and engaging personality.
"He was really a great guy," Beshear said.
Minton said McAnulty was committed to justice for all people throughout his legal career. But Minton said that McAnulty also kept the state's highest court on its toes and never let the justices take themselves too seriously.
When McAnulty was sworn in as the state's first black Supreme Court justice, Jet magazine took a picture of him. Minton was seated next to McAnulty on the bench at the time. When the photo appeared in the magazine, Minton was included in the photo but was not named.
McAnulty called Minton after the story appeared.
"He called me to congratulate me on my debut," Minton said.