A marble statue of a prolific Black educator and civil rights activist was unveiled in Daytona Beach, Florida Monday (October 11), WFTV says.
The 11-foot figure of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune is set to make history when it's eventually moved to the U.S. Capitol later this year. It will be the first statue of a Black American to represent a state in the National Statuary Hall. It was sculpted by Florida artist Nilda Comas, the first Hispanic master sculptor chosen for the Statuary Hall State Collection.
“When I saw it, I got weak in the knees. I actually fell,” Hiram Powell said, the interim president of Bethune-Cookman University, the college Dr. Bethune founded. “I was so overcome because I was standing front and center and her eyes caught mine and I can’t describe the feeling to you."
Dr. Bethune, one of the most important Black educators in the 20th century, called Daytona Beach home. The tenacious activist also served as an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on issues affecting Black Americans.
When she wasn't advocating for the Black community, she working on her businesses: a resort she co-founded and an insurance company. Her home is also a National Historic Site.
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry called the statue's unveiling "our city’s proudest moment."
If you want to check out the statue, visit the News-Journal Center at 221 N. Beach St. in Daytona Beach. It will be on display through December 21.
Click here to reserve free tickets to the exhibit.