U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall to get first state-commissioned statue of a black American
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.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/us-capitols-statuary-hall-get-first-state-commissioned-statue-black-american/

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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)
  • DennisG-kam
    5/11/2018 - 03:02 p.m.

    This article is makes me feel proud that we have a first black amerivan staute that is state commisined

  • kinniel-orv
    5/11/2018 - 03:03 p.m.

    I like how they put a african american has a statue. They should get the african american to.

  • eduardor-orv
    5/14/2018 - 02:44 p.m.

    The statue of Mary McLeod Bethune may inspire people to the capital because of her history. She did many good things in her lifetime 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.

  • jackiek-orv
    5/14/2018 - 02:53 p.m.

    the statue of Mary McLeod Bethune might inspire visitors to the Capitol because she wanted to help the people with their literacy.

  • jeremyj-orv
    5/15/2018 - 08:06 a.m.

    Because it’s a reealy cool structure, and anyone who wants to see amazing carvings and structures.

  • 26dlkirk
    5/15/2018 - 10:21 a.m.

    The statue of Mary McLeod Bethune inspire visitores to the capitol because the statue is a peice of history.

  • 26alcham
    5/15/2018 - 10:26 a.m.

    the statue of Mary McLeod Bethune can inspire people. it can mean a simile for people and saw if you try hard you can succeed. an it can inspire people.

  • 26ymberr
    5/15/2018 - 10:27 a.m.

    It may inspire people because of the things Mary did. People want to be somewhere where they can be inspired.

  • jamariw-orv
    5/16/2018 - 08:11 a.m.

    It’s always good to see history it inspires me to learn more because good people in this world should be noticed and she might inspire people to do great things

  • cheyl-orv
    5/16/2018 - 02:47 p.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.

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