Pelosi Remarks at Sojourner Truth Bust Unveiling

April 28, 2009
Press Release

Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Republican Leader John Boehner, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and Members of Congress were joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this morning to unveil a bust of Sojourner Truth in Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitors Center.  Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared:

“It is a great honor and personal privilege to join the First Lady of the United States, the Secretary of State, my distinguished colleagues in Congress, and all of you to welcome Sojourner Truth to the Capitol.

“As we honor Sojourner Truth, we recognize the hard-fought progress our nation has made in its unending fight for the ideal of equality which is both our nation's heritage and our hope.

“In Sojourner Truth's lifelong fight for equality, she fought to end slavery, to expand opportunity, and she saw the end of a civil war that had torn apart our country.

“As the first woman Speaker of the House, I am particularly grateful for Sojourner's work for women's suffrage.  As she bravely said, ‘I am glad to see that men are getting their rights, but I want women to get theirs, and while the water is stirring, I will step into the pool.'

“That is the history of our nation - brave Americans courageously stepping into stirring water.

“Our national story has many heroes who have continued the work of Sojourner Truth.  Chief among those who helped ensure this moment, but did not live to see it, is C. DeLores Tucker, the founder of the National Congress of Black Women.  In my office, I proudly display a bust of Mary McCleod Bethune which was presented to me by C. DeLores Tucker.  Dr. Tucker joins the ranks of the great American fighters for freedom, some whose names are known, and many others whose names are unknown. I would like to acknowledge members of the Tucker family who join us here today.

“I would also like to recognize the chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Dr. E. Faye Williams.  Dr. Williams, please stand so we may all recognize your efforts to bring about this day.

“I would also like to recognize all the members of the National Congress of Black Women who join us here today.

“And we are all honored to be joined by one of our nation's greatest civil rights activists, and my personal hero, Dorothy Height.

“I am also pleased to welcome eight of Sojourner Truth's direct descendents from Michigan here this morning. Battle Creek, Michigan was Sojourner Truth's home for the last 26 years of her life and is her final resting place. I would also like to recognize their representative in Congress, Congressman Mark Schauer, for his leadership in ensuring that we continue to honor Sojourner Truth in Michigan and in Congress.

“The statue we will unveil today is not just a representation of Sojourner Truth's likeness.  As you all will soon see, the sculptor, Artis Lane, has used hard rock to capture Sojourner's strength but also her humanity, and her energy.  We are very grateful for Artis's contributions to ‘bring Truth to the Capitol.'

“Although Sojourner Truth made history and progress for our country, we continue to struggle against injustice, hatred, and man's inhumanity to man.  We must confront these challenges without fear, as Sojourner Truth did, calling upon her courage - and our own - as we step into the stirring waters of today.”