U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall to get first state-commissioned statue of a black American A statue of Mary McLeod Bethune in Washington, D.C. (Library of Congress/US Capitol)
U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall to get first state-commissioned statue of a black American
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The Statuary Hall Collection is in the U.S. Capitol. It includes two statues from each of the 50 states. They depict notable people in the states’ histories. Most of the collection depicts white men. They are displayed in National Statuary Hall and throughout the Capitol. But now a state-commissioned statue representing a black American will join their ranks. This is a first.

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill. It authorizes the replacement one of his state’s statues with that of civil rights activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune. That's according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. The departing statute is of the Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith. The News-Journal reports that the replacement was prompted by the nation-wide reevaluation of Confederate memorials. 

Bethune was born Mary Jane McLeod in 1875. She was the 15th of 17 children. Her parents were Samuel and Patsy McIntosh McLeod. They had been formerly enslaved on the McIntosh and McLeod plantations in Maysville, South Carolina. That’s according to BlackPast.org. Bethune was the only one of her siblings to attend school. It was a five mile walk she made every day. That's according to PBS.org. She finished her schooling at the Scotia Seminary for Girls. It is in Concord, North Carolina. She also attended the Bible Institute for Home and Foreign Missions. It is now the Moody Bible Institute. It is in Chicago. She completed her education on scholarships.

Originally, Bethune wanted to be a missionary in Africa, but she changed her mind. She realized that “Africans in American needed Christ and school just as much as Negros in Africa,” as she later wrote according to BlackPast.org. “My life work lay not in Africa but in my own country.”

The educator went on to found a school for girls in Daytona, Florida. It eventually merged with the Cookman Institute for Men in Jacksonville to become the Bethune-Cookman College in 1923. She served as the college’s first president until 1942. During that time, in 1935, she founded the National Council of Negro Women. She also served as an advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt and was a friend to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. That’s according to the National Women’s History Museum’s website.

Bethune’s views on education were not without controversy. “My people needed literacy,” she said, according to PBS.org. “But they needed even more to learn the simples of farming, of making decent homes, of health and plain cleanliness.” Her focus on vocational education rather than high learning earned her censure from Ida B. Wells and others.

But Bethune still garnered respect and acclaim for her efforts. She worked to end lynching and discrimination. She was elected vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons (NAACP) in 1940.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the bill to put the statue of Bethune in the U.S. Capitol received nearly unanimous support by the Florida House and Senate.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How might the statue of Mary McLeod Bethune inspire visitors to the Capitol?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (22)
  • 25kwbran
    5/10/2018 - 10:21 a.m.

    The Statue of Mary Mcleod Bethune inspires the capital, because they might wanna come to see the persons statue. or they are gonna wanna be somewhere nice

  • 25mgnisw
    5/10/2018 - 10:23 a.m.

    She was a huge idol. She taught Africans in America how to read and write and educated them in general. She spent her life trying to educate people so they could have a better life.

  • 25jcolsi
    5/10/2018 - 10:23 a.m.

    She may inspire people in many different ways. One way being, people will read about how she devoted her life to helping Africans in America go to school and learn about Christ. This may inspire others to try and help others who are unable tom go to school.

  • 25adhugh
    5/10/2018 - 10:24 a.m.

    The statue may "inspire" people to visit the capitol because it's a memorial that people might want to see. The visitor could even be sent to visit it if they were trying to learn more about Mary and her past..

  • 25rmrebh
    5/10/2018 - 10:26 a.m.

    The statue of Mary McLeod Bethune may inspire people to the capital because of her history. She did a lot of good things in her life, and stood up for her own rights. People will want to come to the capital and look at her statue, and read her story, and they will be inspired by her.

  • 25dmlaco
    5/10/2018 - 10:26 a.m.

    It might inspire visitors to the capitol by being the first black person statue to be in the National Statuary Hall. It is so cool that they finally able to put a black person statue in an important place. People will really want to see that.

  • 25amlars
    5/10/2018 - 10:27 a.m.

    she might inspire others because she wanted to help the people with their literacy. Even the people who couldn't afford it or didn't have it. I think she is brave and determined to do this because no one wanted to teach them and she wanted to help the world.

  • 25gjbarr
    5/10/2018 - 10:30 a.m.

    People might be inspired to see the statue because she was an enslaved and was going to school.To get to school she had to walk five miles to get to school. She believed that America and Africa should have Christ in there life and school as much as America did.

  • 25sjhedm
    5/10/2018 - 10:31 a.m.

    I think that this will inspire people to strive to be a leader and be the first to do something. I really liked this article because it showed how a civil rights leader got rewarded in the end.

  • holdenj-orv
    5/11/2018 - 02:32 p.m.

    This idea seems cool.

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