Mary McLeod Bethune was the daughter of formerly enslaved African people, a dedicated educator and advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and her legacy will now live on at the nation’s capitol.
According to NBC News, a statue of Bethune will be replacing a Confederate general to represent the state of Florida at the nation’s capitol. This replacement is historic, marking the first time an African American represents a state at the National Statuary Hall located within the US Capitol building.
Bethune’s trailblazing legacy will be eternalized in an 11-foot, 6,000 pound statue, that will feature the early civil rights leader in a cap and gown, signifying her dedication to education. The statue will also come with her own stack of books to be positioned next to her and is set to be put in place February 2022.
Born in 1875, Bethune received education in North Carolina and Chicago before she became an educator herself. She moved to Florida where she opened up a boarding school called the Daytona Beach Literacy and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. The school eventually became a college and merged with the all-male Cookman school to form the Bethune-Cookman College in 1929.
“Dr. Bethune dedicated herself to a life of service, to educating African-Americans and to advancing civil rights. Her spirit guides us today –– and Dr. Bethune’s powerful presence looms large on campus and beyond,” the university’s website read Monday (December 20).
Giving through the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Founder’s Fund is a meaningful way to make a difference at Bethune-Cookman University. Click here to make a donation: https://t.co/CUHbf8Tlq6 pic.twitter.com/oksJON87O0
— Bethune-Cookman (@bethunecookman) December 17, 2021
Bethune was selected to represent Florida after the state’s Division of Arts and Culture received more than 3,000 names to replace Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith. Florida Gov. Rick Scott approved replacing Smith in 2016.
Nilda Comas was selected to sculpt the massive figure is made history as the first Hispanic master sculptor to be featured in the Statuary Hall.