An 11-foot-tall, 6,129-pound marble statue of civil rights pioneer Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune will soon reside in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall, representing Florida and replacing one of a Confederate general, reports CNN.
Each state has two statues within Statuary Hall, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott requested the removal of the Confederate statue in 2016. Bethune, an influential Black educator and civil and women's rights leader, was then selected in 2018, becoming the first African American to have a state-commissioned statue in the Hall.
Born to former slaves, Bethune opened a boarding school for Black children in 1904 --- setting the foundation for what would become Bethune-Cookman University --- and later led voter registration drives after women gained the right to vote in 1920, reports CNN. Additionally, she advised five U.S. presidents and was named director of the National Youth Administration's Office of Negro Affairs.
"Dr. Bethune embodies the very best of the Sunshine State -- Floridians and all Americans can take great pride in being represented by the great educator and civil rights icon," U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida said in a press release.
Bethune's statue was made by master sculptor Nilda Comas, a Hispanic woman who spent two years carving the marble, which was sourced from the same Italian Alps cave that Michelangelo used. The Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Statuary Fund, Inc. raised about $800,000 in private donations for the project.