Michelle Obama unveiled a bust of Sojourner Truth, known for her abolitionist and women’s rights work, at the US Capitol yesterday. Truth’s statue is the first of an African-American woman in the Capitol. The unveiling ceremony was also led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
In her remarks, Michelle Obama 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,” according to United Press International.
The addition of Truth’s statue to the Capitol’s collection is the result of years of work by the late Dr. C. Delores Tucker, a lifelong champion of civil rights and women’s rights and the chair of the National Congress of Black Women for nine years. Tucker was the original champion of legislation to add Sojourner Truth to a statue honoring suffragists in the Capitol. Others sponsoring this legislation included former Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) and now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Though the original plan to have Truth added to the existing statue, which depicts Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, failed, President Bush signed a bill in 2006 authorizing the stand-alone bust, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.