On Tuesday, April 28, 2009, in Washington, DC, Sojourner Truth was welcomed to the United States Capitol Visitors Center, Emancipation Hall,  where a bust in memory of her work was donated to the U.S. Congress by the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. (NCBW)

The National Congress of Black Women, Inc. is chaired by Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. who succeeded Dr. C. DeLores Tucker and former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm–the two convening leaders of the organization. Both women passed away in 2005, and the bill to memorialize Sojourner Truth had not yet passed in Congress. Dr. Williams, Dr. Michelle Battle (former Chief Operating Officer) and members of NCBW across the country worked to get the bill honoring Sojourner Truth passed, and they spent the last 2 and one half years raising funds to make it happen. The final bill was championed by then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Arlen Specter, Congresswomen Sheila Jackson-Lee and Diane Watson, as well as others. 

At the official unveiling, NCBW members and friends came to Washington from all over the country to see First Lady Michelle Obama do the unveiling honors.  Actress Cicely Tyson performed Sojourner’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech that was first delivered at a Women’s Conference in Akron, Ohio.  The speech was so powerful that it is credited with igniting the Women’s Suffrage Movement.  Sojourner was also instrumental in working to abolish slavery.  The separate memorial to Sojourner came about when it was discovered that Sojourner had been left off the Portrait Monument that commemorates the right of women to vote.  Agreeing to a stand-alone memorial of Sojourner Truth finally corrects the injustice of leaving her off the original monument. Others participating on the program were Lomax Spaulding, Yolanda Adams, Dorinda Clarke-Cole, Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie, and the young people from the Ron Clarke School from Atlanta, Georgia.

Dr.  Williams says, “Nearly 1,500 men and women came to Washington for the unveiling, and more would have been present if the unveiling had been a public event.  We hope that in the years to come, families will make it a point to find the Sojourner Truth memorial, and pause to honor her sacrifices for all of us. Just as she struggled to correct injustices to women and to Black people, the members of NCBW struggled to bring “Truth to the Capitol”, and we were often reminded along the way that it is through our struggles that we gain our victories.  We want to thank everyone who contributed to making this beautiful, awesome memor

Karen McRae

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