Project 21 Advisory Committee Chairman Edmund Peterson's Statement at a Press Conference on the Suffragette Statue Held April 22 in Room 2203 Rayburn at 11:00 AM

"Sojourner Truth Must Be Respected," says Edmund Peterson: African-American Group Calls for Inclusion of Sojourner Truth As Part of Suffrage Statue

For Release: April 22, 1997

Contact: Arturo Silva (202) 507-6398 or

The recent documentary "When We Were Kings," depicting the issues and events surrounding the historic 1974 Muhammed Ali-George Foreman championship fight in Zaire had me thinking "Who Are Our Queens?" There's not a doubt in my mind, if you're talking about the queens of American history, especially the history of blacks in America, Sojourner Truth is one of our queens.
While she may have not been respected as a queen in 1921 when the suffrage statue of three white feminists was built, I'm here in 1997 to make sure she's put in her rightful place. As a matter of respect and historical accuracy, her rightful place is not to be buried in history, not to be buried in the Crypt of the U.S. Capitol, but to be standing tall in the grand Rotunda.

The current statue of three suffragists placed in the Rotunda Sunday only represents and repeats history in the sense that it adds one more injustice to the many perpetrated on African-Americans in this country. It definitely isn't a historical portrayal of the true leaders of the suffragette movement. The ignorance of the past shouldn't be taught as history in the present.

Sojourner Truth wasn't taken out of the Crypt with her white counterparts; she was never there to begin with. Where are our queens? Unfortunately, they are out of sight, out of mind, an afterthought, an add on. Our queens are treated the same in 1997 as they were in 1921. They are outside knocking at the door asking to be let in. I am one king who will not stand by and allow my queen to be disrespected. This is an issue of respect: Sojourner Truth must be respected!