On October 12, civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune was honored with a marble statue placed in Daytona Beach, Florida, which will stay there until December 12.
According to WESH, the statue was created using marble. The artist Nilda Comas spent four years chiseling away making in her Italian studio before it was shipped off to Daytona Beach, where it will be on display until the middle of December.
Bethune’s statue will go on display in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall, representing Florida. Before that incredible event, the figure will spend two months in Daytona Beach for a public exhibit.
The statue will be the first statue of a Black person in the Capitol Building’s National Statuary Hall and will replace the monument of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith.
Nilda spoke about the piece before its unveiling and said she was honored to be chosen for the job and was thrilled to learn about Dr. Bethune and her contributions. Of the four-year process, she underwent Nilda said: “I love this woman.”
Nilda said that she researched Bethune for what she referenced to be a beautiful journey. “I just fell in love with Dr. Bethune and everything that she did,” Nilda said.
Charles Bethune, the great-grandson of Mary McLeod Bethune, said he plans to find himself visiting the bronze statue often.
Charles said he’s glad folks will get to know the role his great-grandmother had in history.
“We are very proud to know that her time has come, and she can be now looked upon throughout the world as someone who made a difference,” Charles said.
Nancy Lohman, a chair for the Dr. Bethune statuary fund, said that after over four years of hard work, he is happy to see everything finally come together.
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“In our hometown, one of our residents is now being honored in perpetuity in the U.S. Capitol as one of the greatest Floridians of all time,” Lohman said.
Many individuals who attended the unveiling were given opportunities in their careers and lives due to Dr. Bethune’s vision as an educator, humanitarian, philanthropist, and leader.
Dr. Hiram Powell, a Bethune-Cookman graduate, now the interim President for the university, was among them.
“Her faith, which was the core of who she was, is why she achieved what she did because she believed it, and she went after it, and nothing could stop her,” Powell said.
The statue is expected to take its stance in Statuary Hall in February. Another identical bronze statue of Bethune was also made by Nilda and will be placed at Riverfront Park near Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard.