Mary McLeod Bethune Statue is Coming to the CapitolBreaking News
tags: education, African American history, memorials, statues, public history, US Capitol
Educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune will soon make history as the first Black person to have a state-commissioned statue in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall, when her statue replaces that of a Confederate general.
It's a milestone many years in the making. So what exactly will that groundbreaking statue look like?
Members of the public can now see for themselves, after the larger-than-life marble figure was unveiled in Bethune's home state of Florida earlier this week. It will remain on display in Daytona Beach for several months before taking its place in the nation's capital in early 2022, according to Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.
Bethune, the daughter of formerly enslaved people, was an influential educator and activist who — among her many accomplishments — founded the National Council of Negro Women, advised multiple U.S. presidents and created a boarding school for Black children that would later become Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.
The 11-foot statue, which weighs more than 6,000 lbs., was sculpted out of the largest (and last) piece of statuary marble from Michelangelo's quarry in Italy. It was created by artist Nilda Comas, who was chosen from a field of 1,600 applicants and is the first Hispanic master sculptor to create a statue for the National Statuary Hall State Collection.
The Capitol's Statuary Hall collection features two statues from each of the 50 states.
Florida first moved to replace one of its statues, honoring Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, in 2016. It was removed from the Capitol just last month.
State lawmakers unanimously approved Bethune as its replacement in 2018, after after a lengthy search process that included input from members of the public.
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