Sojourner Truth Becomes First Black Woman to Be Honored Among Statues at U.S. Capitol

Johanna Neuman, Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2009

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Today, at the new Capitol Visitors’ Center, Sojourner Truth became the first African American woman to have a place of honor among the statues in the U.S. Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opened the ceremony that unveiled the memorial statue in Emancipation Hall, so-named because slaves helped build the Capitol. Pelosi, the first woman speaker of the House of Representatives in U.S. history, said the former slave who met Abraham Lincoln had come home “to her rightful place.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the placement of Truth’s statue “an achievement that did not come quickly or easily” and noted, “We’re here because of barriers she tore down.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, the Texas Democrat who with Hillary Clinton spearheaded the drive to honor Truth with a statue, spoke of how much the current generation owes to previous ones, saying “the truth will prevail.” {snip}

Several other lawmakers also spoke–House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

But the headliner of today’s event was First Lady Michelle Obama, who said that Sojourner Truth did not allow the indignity of slavery to destroy her spirit, “who fought for her own freedom, and then used her powers, young people–then she used her power to help others; who fought for the right to vote and for the rights of all women.” {snip}

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