History is in the process of being made as a bill to grant Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune a statue in the National Statuary Hall to represent the state of Florida will be passed as soon as next Wednesday.
Dr. Bethune, an illustrious educator and civil rights pioneer, who once served as the vice president of the National Association of Colored Persons (NAACP) and co-founded one of the most distinguished Historical Black Colleges in America (Bethune-Cookman University), will be replacing a statue of controversial Confederate General Edmond Kirby Smith.
In 2016, Legislature directed the committee of the Great Floridians Program within the Department of State to recommend three prominent Florida citizens to replace the Confederate general. The three citizens included: Marjory Stoneman Douglas, George Washington Jenkins, and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.
Assuming that it will pass on the last day of January, it will take effect on July 1. The National Statuary Hall Bill (SB 472) was initially filed on October 10 of last year. It went through its first committee hearing in mid-November and received 18 votes against one. Under legislation sponsored by Senator Perry E. Thurston JR. (D-Fort Lauderdale), SB 472, which request that the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress approve the replacement in National Statuary Hall, the vote won a nearly unanimous passage, Wednesday, on the Senate Floor. It has now been placed on its 3 reading.
“I’m pleased that the Senate has come one step closer to choosing Mary McLeod Bethune as our representative in the Statuary Hall in Washington D.C.,” Senator Thurston explained on Thursday afternoon, “Choosing Dr. Bethune says a strong statement that recognizes our states rich history and present-day diversity.”
Dr. Bethune will stand alone as the only African American to ever represent a state in the National Statuary Hall. She will be the fifth African American in the National Statuary Hall collection including Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth, whom all do not represent states.
Bethune-Cookman University students seem ecstatic about the replacement. Danielle Rodriguez, graduating Accounting and Business Administration double major at BCU, said “It makes me extremely proud that the founder of my university is going to have a statue in [the] U.S. Capitol,” she continued to say “Dr. Bethune was an influential activist and worked hard for her mission, so she is more than deserving of this honor.”
It even seems as the rivalry between FAMU and the Wildcats has temporarily subsided, as FAMU graduate Kereena Gordon said, “I’m so proud that not only an African American will be representing my home state but an African American woman.”