(CNSNews.com) – Almost two dozen black pastors and leaders of the pro-life movement held a press conference and rally Thursday on the steps of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to demand the removal of a bust of eugenicist and Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger that is in the museum's “Struggle for Justice” exhibit.
The group also delivered to a museum official a petition signed by more than 14,000 people seeking the bust’s removal while standing beside the bust that’s part of an exhibit that also features civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.
“Why in the world are we honoring her?” Bishop E.W. Jackson, founder and president of Staying True to America's National Destiny, or STAND, said at the press conference. “So, yes, we should not only take [Margaret Sanger] out of the museum, we should defund Planned Parenthood – not spend a dime of tax dollars on Planned Parenthood.
“The woman was a racist. She was a genocidal figure in America and in human history, and to honor her is to be complicit in her evil and her racism,” Jackson said. “That’s right. If you are honoring Margaret Sanger, you are joining together with her in her racist ideology.
“So she may have never used the term - that is Margaret Sanger - but she was clearly a white supremacist,” Jackson said. “That term is used today as a political weapon often without any facts to back it up.
“We’ve got facts to back up that Margaret Sanger was a white supremacist,” Jackson said.
Brent Bozell, chairman of For America, said he had an idea of what to do with the Sanger bust.
"I have a message for the Smithsonian,” Bozell said. “I have an idea. What if we were to do this: What if we were to take that bust down but leave the stand, leave it standing there?"
“Let it quietly represent that hero, that man or that woman we will never know because he and she was aborted ...and then let us take that bust, take it to a far off place, dig a deep, deep hole, put it inside, and apologize to the dirt,” Bozell said.
Rev. Johnny Hunter of the Global Life and Family Mission in North Carolina, said it was a “slap in the face to black folks” to have Sanger as part of the “Struggle for Justice” exhibit.
“Because it's not just us, but each one of us represents a number of people across this nation,” Hunter said, “and if you really want to bring this nation together again, putting that mess up there like that is not going to help.
“Last thing we need is a white supremacist sitting between the bust of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks,” Hunter said. “That's just a slap in the face to black folks, and I hope the curator can understand that.”
As CNSNews.com previously reported, Jackson’s group Ministers Taking a Stand, delivered a letter to the National Portrait Gallery on Aug. 7, demanding that the bust of Sanger be removed from the “Struggle for Justice” exhibit.
"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 a rally of Ku Klux Klan women; and communications with Hitler sympathizers," the letter from Ministers Taking A Stand stated.
“Also the notorious ‘Negro Project,’ which sought to limit, if not eliminate black births, was her brainchild,” the letter stated. “Despite these well- documented facts of history, her bust sits proudly in your gallery as a hero of justice.
“The obvious incongruity is staggering!” the letter added.
However, the portrait gallery director told the pastors that the museum would “respectfully decline” to remove the bust.
“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,” Director Kim Sajet told the pastors in an Aug. 19 letter.
“There is no ‘moral test’ for people to be accepted into the National Portrait Gallery,” said Sajet.
Following the press conference, Jackson and some of the pastors and pro-life leaders delivered a petition that was posted online seeking the removal of the Sanger bust. More than 14,000 people from around the world have signed the petition.
“We have deep concern that you have Margaret Sanger’s bust here at the Struggle for Justice Exhibit when all the facts in history that we know about her indicate that she was anything but committed to justice for poor people, for minority people,” Jackson said as he handed over the petition to Bethany Bentley, head of communications and public affairs at the portrait gallery. “Everything about her suggests just the opposite, that not only was she not interested in justice for those people, but she was interested in trying to make sure that they did not live, that their populations didn’t grow.
“The bust must go,” Jackson said. “We’re going to keep pressing this issue, because we believe that every American is paying tax dollars for something that’s completely contrary to everything that we as Americans believe in.”
CNSNews.com Correspondent Craig Millward contributed to this report.