Pelosi Remarks at Congressional Commemoration in Honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment
“Today, we gather to observe that 150 years ago, our nation took a giant step toward honoring the ideals at the heart of our democracy.
“At long last, we stopped poisoning the soul of our country with the atrocity of slavery. At long last, we broke the shackles that debased the American dream of justice and equality.
“We have marked many milestone anniversaries in this year: 150 years of the Thirteenth Amendment; 50 years since the Selma March and the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
“With each commemoration, we reflect on the wrongs that denied the humanity of so many millions in our country. With each, we celebrate the triumph of dignity, determination and courage that are the pride of America. With each, we rededicate ourselves to the march toward justice that is the heritage and the hope of our democracy. In this commemoration, we are surrounded by memories of that continuing march.
“I am very proud of the progress that our initiatives to have more statues of women and people of color gracing the halls of Congress – heroes of our country such as Rosa Parks, Helen Keller and Sojourner Truth – right here in Emancipation Hall.
“I am reminded that on April 28, 2009, we unveiled the bust of Sojourner Truth here in Emancipation Hall. Then, we were honored with the presence of the new First Lady, Michelle Obama. She said that day – and I carry this in my heart – she said, ‘I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the First Lady of the United States of America.’
“150 years after the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, 50 years after the Voting Rights Act, Sojourner Truth would be proud of our Congressional Black Caucus, the conscience of the Congress.
“She would also be very proud, as we all are, that this observance today is graced with the presence of the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
“God has truly blessed America. Thank you.”