This is long overdue!
A statue of educational pioneer Mary McLeod Bethune will make history as the first made in the likeness of a Black woman on display in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol, Flapol reports.
Bethune was a pioneer in education, teaching Black children all over Florida, becoming an advocate and activist for educational and civil rights, and eventually founding the prestigious Bethune-Cookman University.
Now, congressional representatives are coming together to honor her legacy and ensure that her place in America’s history is cemented in perpetuity. The charge is led by Florida U.S. Democratic Rep. Val Demings and U.S. Republican Rep. Michael Waltz. The two are introducing a resolution to have a welcome ceremony for the new statue, which will ensure the bust of Bethune is on display in the Rotunda for six months prior to its permanent display in the National Statuary Hall.
“When Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was a child, she picked up a book. The other children, seeing that she was Black, told her ‘put that down, you can’t read.’ That moment started a lifelong commitment to education and civil rights and launched an unparalleled legacy that lives on today. In her last will and testament, she wrote that she leaves us with hope, love, faith, responsibility to our young people and thirst for education. Education: the key to success in America. Therefore, it is more than fitting that she should be here in the ‘People’s House,’” Demings said.
The statue will replace a bust of former confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith. In 2018, former Governor Rick Scott authorized Bethune’s statue to replace Smith’s after much scrutiny nationally regarding honoring those who were a part of the confederacy.
Demings issued a statement regarding Bethune and her legacy saying, “Mary McLeod Bethune was the most powerful woman I can remember as a child. She has been an inspiration to me throughout my whole life. I am proud that she will be Florida’s new face in the U.S. Capitol, and know that her life will continue to inspire all Americans for years to come.”
Waltz echoed those sentiments saying, Florida’s Sixth District is honored to have one of its most notable figures celebrated in the U.S. Capitol – and I’m looking forward to thousands of visitors in Washington learning more about Dr. Bethune and her servant leadership to America.”
The statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune is expected to be unveiled in 2021.
Photo Courtesy of FloridaPolitics.com