Posted on December 21, 2021

Black Civil Rights Icon Replacing Confederate General Statue in U.S. Capitol

Shirin Ali, The Hill, December 20, 2021

Mary McLeod Bethune is a daughter of former slaves, a prominent Black educator who founded Bethune-Cookman University and an advisor to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Now she’s about to have her role in American history further cemented, when her statue is added to the National Statuary Hall Collection.

Bethune will be the first Black person to represent a state in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. She will be replacing a statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith in February 2022, according to NBC News.

Bethune’s statue will stand 11-feet tall and weigh 6,000 pounds, with her wearing a cap and gown to signify her dedication to education. It will also have a stack of her own books next to her.


Beyond education, Bethune also played a major role in advancing the right to vote, serving as the highest ranking African American woman in government after FDR named her his director of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration. She also was a leader of FDR’s unofficial “black cabinet.”

The Florida Department of State’s Division of Arts and Culture received over 3,000 names to replace the statue of Smith, which Florida governor Rick Scott approved to remove in 2016. {snip}