STATUE OF SOJOURNER TRUTH TO BE ON DISPLAY IN U.S. CAPITOL BUILDING
The U.S. Senate approved legislation on December 6, 2006, directing the Joint Committee on the Library to accept and display a donated statue of Sojourner Truth in the United States Capitol Building. Truth, a leading 19th century abolitionist and suffragist, will be joining her contemporaries Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott as one of the few women and as the first African American woman to be so honored on Capitol Hill.
Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) worked to gain bipartisan support of the bill in the Senate and it was approved unanimously. Similar legislation passed in the House of Representatives in December, 2005, with Representatives Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Major Owens (D-NY), Diane Watson (D-CA) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) as its main champions.
The effort to commemorate Sojourner Truth was by the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. The late Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, a lifelong champion of civil rights and women’s rights and the chair of the National Congress of Black Women from 1994-2005, began a campaign for a statue honoring Truth in 1997. The National Women’s History Museum joined with other organizations to support passage of the Sojourner Truth bill.
Truth, whose birth name was Isabella Baumfree, was born into slavery in New York in 1797. She gained her freedom, changed her name to Sojourner Truth, and spent most of her adult life traveling the country preaching for human rights. Her most famous speech, “Ain’t I A Woman,” given at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, is a much cited women’s rights piece. Truth died November 26, 1883 in Battle Creek, Michigan.
“The recognition by the Congress that Sojourner Truth, one of the nation’s greatest women’s rights leaders, should be honored in the Capitol is both well deserved and long overdue. Her great advocacy on behalf of women, despite all the hardships she faced, makes Sojourner Truth truly deserving of representation,” stated Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., the current national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, said, “This is a great honor for Black women everywhere, and we are grateful to all who worked to make it happen. While we have struggled for a very long time to keep Sojourner Truth’s legacy alive, we recognize that it is through our struggles that we gain our victories.”