Smithsonian Refuses Black Pastors’ Request to Remove Bust of ‘Racist’ Planned Parenthood Founder

 

Smithsonian Credit Bobak HaEri
Photo Credit: Bobak Ha’Eri

WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian is refusing to remove a bust of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger from its “Struggle for Justice” exhibit despite opposition from a group of African American pastors who pointed out Sanger’s advocacy for eugenics.

Earlier this month, a coalition called “Ministers Taking a Stand” wrote to officials with the National Portrait Galley at the Smithsonian Institute to request that Sanger’s image be removed from the exhibit—and any other displays at the museum. The “Struggle for Justice” display was to honor those figures who fought “long standing segregationist practices and discrimination in American society,” and features images of leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.

“Ms. Sanger may have been a lot of things, but a ‘champion of justice’ she definitely was not,” the letter read. “Perhaps the gallery is unaware that Ms. Sanger supported black eugenics, a racist attitude toward black and other minority babies; an elitist attitude toward those she regarded as ‘the feeble minded;’ speaking at rallies of Klu Klux Klan women; and communications with Hitler sympathizers.”

“Also, the notorious ‘Negro Project’ which sought to limit, if not eliminate, black births, was her brainchild,” it continued. “Despite these well-documented facts of history, her bust sits proudly in your gallery as a hero of justice.”

The pastors, which included Bishop E.W. Jackson of Virginia, Cecil Blye, Jr. of Kentucky, Stanley Jacobs of Delaware and Steven Craft of New York, demanded that any images of Sanger be removed from the Smithsonian.

“We will not remain silent while the National Portrait Gallery venerates someone who sought to eradicate our very existence. … She was no hero,” they wrote. “Notwithstanding the fact that many of us are black, we are a national organization of pastors from various races and backgrounds, and we stand together in opposition to the racist and genocidal legacy of Margaret Sanger.”

On Wednesday, the Smithsonian replied to Ministers Taking a Stand, declining to remove Sanger’s likeness from the museum.

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“There is no ‘moral test’ for people to be accepted into the National Portrait Gallery,” Gallery Director Kim Sajet wrote.

“Instead, we try to draw attention to those who have made a significant impact on American history and culture, and that includes both the accomplished and reprehensible,” she said. “We recognize Sanger’s advocacy on behalf of women’s health and education whilst acknowledging her sometimes deplorable beliefs.”

Sajet stated that the description of the bust of Sanger includes text outlining her controversial philosophies.

“As we note on the label accompanying the bust, Ms. Sanger believed that through social planning, living conditions, as well as the human race itself, could be improved through scientific principles,” she wrote. “Her association with the eugenics movement shadowed her achievements in sex education and contraception, making her a figure of controversy, one whose complexities and contradictions mirror her times.”

The Smithsonian director closed her response by stating that removing “less than perfect” people from the gallery would “deprive future generations of valuable lessons concerning personal ambition and achievement on one hand, and human imperfection and fallibility on the other.”

Jackson says that the group will continue to push for the removal of the bust.

“If they must recognize her ‘historical significance,’ place her with busts of Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Goebbels, Pol Pot and Dr. Mengele,” he told reporters. “This would put her in her proper historical context with the infamous and evil figures who committed genocide.”


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  • Mr. Avatar

    “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” [James Madison -1778 to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia]

    • Michael C

      It sounds like he was saying that our strength as a culture is individuals choosing to govern themselves. The commandments are for individuals to adhere to, not for government to enforce (or even officially endorse).

      • Matthew T. Mason

        Who said they couldn’t endorse anything?

        • Michael C

          Do you not feel that the endorsement of specific religious beliefs could be interpreted as establishment?

          • Matthew T. Mason

            Considering what the First Amendment actually says and not what anti-Christian bigots want it to say, the answer would be no.

          • Michael C

            Do you consider me to be an “anti-Christian bigot” because I feel that the display of the Ten Commandments constitutes an endorsement of Christianity and I don’t believe that the government should endorse particular religious beliefs?

          • Matthew T. Mason

            Are you taking the same tack with what is going on with the blatant teaching of Islam at a school in Tennessee??

          • Michael C

            I don’t know what you’re talking about but it’s obvious that you’re too agitated to carry on a conversation. Have a wonderful.

          • Matthew T. Mason

            Of course you don’t. Which answers your question.

        • respectourdifferences

          SCOTUS

    • respectourdifferences

      While Mr. Madison was certainly entitled to his opinion, how is it relevant to the situation at hand?

  • Rebecca

    Just like the gays have said, if ya don’t want to support gay marriage, don’t have one.
    Well, if ya don’t like the 10 commandments ignore them.

  • Phipps Mike

    ” property cannot be used to promote a “church denomination or system of religion.” yep. Also its high time that Christians realize that the US laws are given to us by Romans via the anglo-saxons and NOT god. Romans were NOT Christians.

    • Matthew T. Mason

      Where did the Romans get them?

      • Phipps Mike

        “Roman Legal Development

        Before the Twelve Tables (754-449 BC), private law comprised the Roman
        civil law (ius civile Quiritium) that applied only to Roman citizens,
        and was bonded to religion; undeveloped, with attributes of strict
        formalism, symbolism, and conservatism, e.g. the ritual practice of
        mancipatio (a form of sale). The jurist Sextus Pomponius said, “At the
        beginning of our city, the people began their first activities without
        any fixed law, and without any fixed rights: all things were ruled
        despotically, by kings”. It is believed that Roman Law is rooted in the
        Etruscan religion, emphasizing ritual.”

        http://www.crystalinks . com/romelaw . html
        just take the spaces out of the link after you paste it into your url bar. Remember that Romans law FAR predated Christianity and that Jesus hung on the cross for bringing Christianity into their realm.

        • Matthew T. Mason

          Do the Romans predate God?

          How about answering my question: Where did the Romans get it from?

          • Phipps Mike

            did you ride the small bus to go to school? I answered already but apparently you dont know how to read nor do you know how to follow a link. The Romans (once again) got their religion from the Etruscans. The Etruscans believed in the MANY different Gods just like the Greeks did. Christianity didnt come around until many many years AFTER the Romans already had the Etruscan religion. It is inapplicable to ask a question concerning when the CHRISTIAN God was said to be existent when the Christian God was not even THOUGHT of at that time. You are assuming that the Christian God is a FACT when he is NOT. The existence of God is only through faith, NOT science.

          • Matthew T. Mason

            God isn’t just a Christian God. He is a sovereign God. You seem to think morality came from the human mind. And you are wrong. Morality is not, has not been, and cannot be defined by man alone.

            We have already been over this. Buildings all over the world are full of people with your mindset. They’re called prisons.

            You can deny God all you want. And when you find out you’re wrong, it’s too late.

          • Phipps Mike

            You like to play word games I see. God could mean ANYBODYS God such as Zeus..etc…so yea, God as a term doesnt mean JUST the Christian God. But I will assume that YOUR God IS the Christian one. Therefore, he is only existent to Christians. That was my point that you are trying to redirect to mean something else. Morality must somehow be copyrighted by God in YOURS and other Christians minds, so lets be articulate.” Right and wrong” is NOT copyrighted by God. Millions of atheists do “right” WITHOUT Gods help. So how do you explain that? I can explain it EASILY. They know empathy. It doesnt take God for a person to feel empathy. I dont deny God, I deny the fact that he is needed for a person to do right or wrong. Its PATHETIC for anybody to DEPEND on him to do right.

          • Matthew T. Mason

            Hell will make you change your mind.

            And morality isn’t defined by individual choice. Sorry.

          • Phipps Mike

            sure it is, its called learning by hard knocks. Here is something for YOU to read and learn: http://www.smithsonianmag . com/science-nature/how-humans-became-moral-beings-80976434/?no-ist

  • respectourdifferences

    Based upon the Oklahoma Constitution, there was no other choice. The people of Oklahoma are, of course, free to change the state Constitution so that government entities, which are elected to represent all the people of all faiths as well as no faith, and are not elected to legislate matters of religious belief, are allowed to promote one religion over another.

    • Michael Davis

      Then they’d fall afoul of the US Constitution, which takes precedence.

      • contrarypointofview

        Most likely, but it would be fun to watch them try.

        • Michael Davis

          I believe the last serious state government challenge to the Supremacy Clause was Governor Wallace. We could use some entertainment along these lines, I guess.