Statue of Black educator unveiled before heading to Capitol
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A statue of Black educator Mary McLeod Bethune will be on display for two months in Florida before heading to its permanent home in the U.S. Capitol where it’s replacing a sculpture of a Confederate soldier as one of two statues from the Sunshine State in the building’s National Statuary Hall.
The 11-foot marble statue of Bethune, a civil rights leader and adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt, was unveiled Monday at the News-Journal Center in Daytona Beach.
The statue depicts Bethune, a founder of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, wearing a graduation cap and gown and holding a black rose.
When the statue of Bethune arrives at the U.S. Capitol early next year, after being on display in Daytona Beach for two months, she will be the first Black woman represented in the statuary hall, where each state has two statues of prominent native sons and daughters.
“The sculpture is a gleaming representation of what is possible with unyielding tenacity and dogged determination,” Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
The statue of Bethune replaces one of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith.
Confederate monuments across the country have fallen in recent years amid contentious debate over whether they are proud monuments to Southern heritage or hated symbols of racism and past slavery.