Black Educator Mary McLeod Bethoon Awards at Statue Hall

Civil rights leader And on Wednesday the pioneering educator Mary McLeod Bethune became the first black man promoted by the state to be recognized in the Statue Hall of the Capitol.

Florida Last year, the grassroots movement commissioned the project after successfully removing the statue of Edmund Kirby Smith. South Army A general who surrenders after the Civil War. Bethoon joins John Gorrie, a pioneer in air conditioning and freezing, on behalf of Florida.

Bethoon was born in South Carolina In 1875, seven years after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, equal protection was guaranteed to everyone in the United States. She died in 1955 and she helped lay the foundation for the civil rights movement.

“Putting her statue here is absolutely amazing as a reminder of what our democracy is,” said granddaughter Evelyn Bethoon.

Mary McLeod Bethoon is probably best known for establishing a school known as Bethune Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. The school started as a girls’ school in 1904. She is also one of the founders of the United Negro College Foundation. The financial backbone of predominantly black high schools across the country.

After forming a strong friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt, Bethoon became director of the Black Affairs Division of the National Youth Bureau, a New Deal era program.

Ashley Robertson Preston of Howard University said Bethoon led President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Black Cabinet” as the highest-ranking black government official, promoting diversification of the defense industry and later President Harry Truman. He said he helped draft the presidential order. , Bethoon biographer.

“She was Opla at the time. She was Booker T. Washington at the time. She was Martin Luther King at the time,” Preston said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and minority leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California. Members of the Florida Parliamentary delegation joined in to host the unveiling ceremony for her statue.

Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla. “In the face of the ignorance, cruelty and prejudice of others, she refused to give in to bitterness, cynicism, or despair.”

For Democratic Congressman Val Demings, who is playing Rubio this year, Bethoon “made it possible to do what seemed impossible.”

A white marble statue shows a vesoon in an academic robe with black roses. Preston lovingly called his students “black roses” after visiting a garden in Europe. There she saw a black rose growing between yellow and red.

The books piled up at the foot of the statue engrave some of the core values ​​from her last will and will: love, hope, faith, racial dignity, thirst for education, courage and peace. ..

The statue of Kirby Smith, who fled to Mexico for fear of treason after surrendering in Galveston, Texas on May 26, 1865, was lynched in 1922 when a black Florida man was lynching to vote. Was installed in. A white mob burned down the entire town.

The Southern Poverty Law Center said in a statement that “there is still work to be done” when removing statues honoring “people who voluntarily fought for the South Army.” The group urged them to replace them in the statue hall with those who represent “the values ​​of diversity, equality and justice in their state.”


Warren, reported from Atlanta, is a member of AP’s racial and ethnic team. Rick Gentilo, an Associated Press video journalist, contributed to this report.

Black Educator Mary McLeod Bethoon Awards at Statue Hall

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