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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions - S. 2600

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

By Mrs. CLINTON (for herself, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. DODD, Ms. CANTWELL, Mr. SARBANES, Mr. SCHUMER, Ms. LANDRIEU, Mr. SANTORUM, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. SPECTER, Mr. ALEXANDER, Ms. STABENOW, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mrs. HUTCHISON, Ms. MIKULSKI, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. CORZINE, and Mr. PRYOR):

S. 2600. A bill to direct the Architect of the Capitol to enter into a contract to revise the statue commemorating women's suffrage located in the rotunda of the United States Capitol to include a likeness of Sojourner Truth; to the Committee on Rules and Administration.

Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I have sought recognition to co-sponsor legislation to add the likeness of Sojourner Truth to the statue commemorating women's suffrage located in the rotunda of the United States Capitol.

Sojourner Truth (1797?-1883) was the self-given name of a woman born into slavery. The year of her birth is uncertain, and is usually taken to be 1797. Originally Isabella Van Wagener, she escaped to Canada in 1827.

After New York State had abolished slavery in 1829, she returned and worked as a domestic servant for over a decade, and joined Elijah Pierson in evangelical preaching on street-corners. Later in life she became a noted speaker for both the Abolitionist movement and the women's rights movement. Perhaps one of her most famous speeches was Ain't I A Woman, a short but pointed commentary delivered in 1851 at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio.

During the American Civil War, she organized collection of supplies for the Union. In 1850, she worked with Olive Gilbert to produce a biography, the Narrative of Sojourner Truth.

This was a truly amazing woman who endeavored in her time to change the American experience both for her fellow freed slaves as well as women of all races. A courageous woman, Truth not only spoke out against the racial oppression that she had endured throughout her childhood but acted on her beliefs, inspiring men and women of all races with her personal strength, wisdom, and social activism.

Through her courage and perseverance, Sojourner Truth, her contemporaries, and future visionaries have led our nation and the world toward greater freedom and democracy for all. Three of these women-Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony-are already portrayed by the Portrait Monument, which was presented to Congress in 1920 in honor of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. Her recognition, as an African-American would be an appropriate, noteworthy addition to the statue.

I am pleased to offer this legislation to finally honor Sojourner Truth in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol and encourage the retelling of her inspirational story to the American people. This is a long overdue effort and I encourage my colleagues to support this legislation.

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