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Waltz, Demings Introduce Legislation to Welcome Mary McLeod Bethune Statue to U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, U.S. Reps. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) and Val Demings (D-Fla.) introduced legislation to welcome the statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune to the U.S. Capitol.

If passed, the resolution would authorize the use of the Capitol Rotunda to display the statue for six months, where it will join the National Statuary Hall Collection. In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis formally requested Bethune to represent Florida in the U.S. Capitol following approval by the Florida Legislature.

The Bethune statue is expected to be unveiled next year and will be the first statue of a black American to represent a U.S. state in Statuary Hall.

“Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s inspiration reaches much further than our Daytona Beach community and Florida. Bethune knew education is the key to equality and to a better life for all,” Waltz said. “Bethune was a leader who worked hard every day to provide opportunities to those in our community and our country who didn’t have a voice. Her example and legacy should make all Floridians proud.”  

“When Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was a child, she picked up a book. The other children, seeing that she was Black, told her ‘put that down, you can’t read.’ That moment started a lifelong commitment to education and civil rights and launched an unparalleled legacy that lives on today,” said Demings. “In her last will and testament, she wrote that she leaves us with hope, love, faith, responsibility to our young people and thirst for education. Education: the key to success in America. Therefore, it is more than fitting that she should be here in the ‘People’s House.’”

Born to former slaves, Bethune paved the way for civil rights and higher education for African Americans in the United States. She founded a literacy school for African-American girls in Daytona Beach, which later merged with the all-male Cookman Institute to form Bethune-Cookman College.

“Mary McLeod Bethune was the most powerful woman I can remember as a child. She has been an inspiration to me throughout my whole life,” said Demings. “I am proud that she will be Florida’s new face in the U.S. Capitol and know that her life will continue to inspire all Americans for years to come.”

“Florida’s Sixth District is honored to have one of its most notable figures celebrated in the U.S. Capitol – and I’m looking forward to thousands of visitors in Washington learning more about Dr. Bethune and her leadership,” Waltz said.

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