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Black pro-lifers: Get Margaret Sanger out of the National Portrait Gallery

The Margaret Sanger bust in the National Portrait Gallery. Creative Commons

Black pro-lifers: Get Margaret Sanger out of the National Portrait Gallery

WASHINGTON—A group of African-American pastors and pro-life activists gathered at the Smithsonian Institution this morning to ask for the removal of a statue of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. The request is part of a renewed backlash against the abortion giant following an undercover investigation into its profiteering from fetal tissue sales.

Leaders of the alliance, led by Bishop E.W. Jackson, spoke in front of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and afterwards walked inside to deliver a petition with 14,000 signatures. Sanger’s bust is part of the gallery’s “Struggle for Justice” collection. In addition to advocating abortion, the activists noted Sanger espoused racist views and pushed a form of eugenics to control minority populations.

“Planned Parenthood is a euphemism for planned death for people who shouldn’t exist,” said Jackson, president of the Christian non-profit organization Staying True to America’s National Destiny (STAND). “The woman was a racist and genocidal figure. To honor her is to be complicit in her racist ideology.”

Smithsonian representatives said they do not plan to remove the bronze bust. In a statement issued Tuesday, they said the portrait gallery “was chartered not to be a hall of fame but to collect and display portraits of individuals who represent the full spectrum of the American experience.” The bust has been on display since 2010 and officials said it will remain part of the gallery’s permanent collection.

The campaign to remove the bust began earlier this month when Jackson circulated a letter signed by a group of African-American pastors. When the museum declined their request, Jackson and his group took to social media, circulating an online petition that collected 14,000 signatures in two weeks. The activists said their efforts were no different from those who won approval last month to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds. Although some expressed doubt the bust would actually be moved, they said this was an opportunity to publicly reiterate their demands to defund Planned Parenthood and dialogue about the plight of African-American babies. Pro-life advocates who attended the event included Star Parker, Bishop Harry Jackson, Lila Rose, Marjorie Dannenfelser, Brent Bozell, and Ryan Bomberger.

“We cannot condemn a shooter in Charleston and at the same time celebrate Margaret Sanger,” said Rev. Dean Nelson of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, referring to the June shooting of black churchgoers at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.. “She was not a champion of women’s rights or the downtrodden.”

Juliana Chan Erikson Juliana is a correspondent and a member of WORLD's investigative unit, the Caleb Team. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Juliana resides in the Washington, D.C. metro area with her husband and 3 children.


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