Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following remarks today at the unveiling of the Sojourner Truth bust in Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center. Below are his marks as prepared for delivery:
“Just steps from this spot, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott look out proudly over the Capitol Rotunda from a block of white Italian marble.
“A rough, unfinished slab of stone stands behind them. Sojourner Truth, who carved out her place in history fighting bravely not only for the emancipation of slaves but for women to exercise the freedom to vote, is the missing piece of that story.
“Today Congress gives Sojourner Truth her own overdue monument here in Emancipation Hall, in the shadow of the Statue of Freedom.
“Sojourner Truth was a woman of great faith, and from that faith flowed immense courage.
“Cicely Tyson just beautifully delivered the words Sojourner Truth spoke to a convention of women a decade before the Civil War and seven decades before this country’s Constitution belatedly bestowed a woman’s right to participate in our democracy. One line in particular has proven a powerful prophecy:
‘If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side-up again.’
“Today we not only honor the woman immortalized here by the skilled hands of sculptor Artis Lane – herself a descendant of a brave abolitionist – but the women who surround me today and who every day make Sojourner Truth’s prophecy come true.
“First Lady Michelle Obama, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Ms. Tyson – thank you for your courage in turning our world right side-up where it is wrong.
“And to the National Congress of Black Women and the senior Senator from Michigan, Carl Levin, thank for you all your hard work in making this day possible.”