WASHINGTON — Congressmen in Washington are joining the call for the bust of the black eugenics advocate and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger to be removed from the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian.
As previously reported, a coalition of pastors called “Ministers Taking a Stand” wrote to officials with the National Portrait Galley at the Smithsonian Institute last month 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 Ku 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.
But the Smithsonian, while acknowledging that Sanger had a sordid legacy, said that it would not remove the bust because she also contributed to other achievements, such as the provision of birth control and sex education.
“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.”
“We recognize Sanger’s advocacy on behalf of women’s health and education whilst acknowledging her sometimes deplorable beliefs,” she continued.
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.”
Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Louie Gohmert, both of Texas, are now working on circulating a letter through Congress calling for the removal of Sanger’s bust from the museum.
“We the undersigned members of Congress demand that the bust of Margaret Sanger be immediately removed from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and not be displayed in or on any Smithsonian-operated property,” it reads. “The fact that her bust has been included as a part of the gallery’s ‘Struggle for Justice’ exhibit is an affront both to basic human decency and the very meaning of justice.”
The letter also notes that the current outrage surrounding Planned Parenthood’s harvesting and sale of the organs of aborted babies.
Both Cruz and Gohmert joined Ministers Taking a Stand for a press conference outside of the Smithsonian on Thursday, and following the event, Bishop E.W. Jackson, joined by other African American ministers and leaders, delivered a 14,000-signature petition to the gallery.
“[Sanger] was anything but committed to justice for poor people, for minority people,” he said as he submitted the petitions to a museum representative. “Everything about her suggests just the opposite, as not only was she not interested in justice for these people, but she was interested in trying to make sure she didn’t let them live.”
“The bust must go,” Jackson declared, being echoed with a “yes” from those who joined him.
In her book “Pivot of Civilization,” Sanger—who founded the Birth Control League, which was later renamed Planned Parenthood—asserts that “the destiny and the progress of civilization and of human expression has been hindered and held back by this burden of the imbecile and the moron.”
“[W]e are paying for and even submitting to the dictates of an ever increasing, unceasingly spawning class of human beings who never should have been born at all—that the wealth of individuals and of states is being diverted from the development and the progress of human expression and civilization,” she wrote.