Waltz Welcomes Florida’s Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Statute to the U.S. Capitol
Washington, July 13, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, U.S. Congressman Mike Waltz (FL-6) welcomed the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Statue to the U.S. Capitol where it will represent the State of Florida.
In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis formally requested Dr. Bethune represent Florida in the U.S. Capitol following approval by the Florida Legislature. In 2020, Reps. Waltz and Val Demings (FL-10) introduced legislation to welcome her statue to the U.S. Capitol and National Statuary Hall Collection.
Dr. Bethune is the first African American to represent a state in the U.S. Capitol.
“What a great day for Daytona Beach, for Bethune-Cookman University, and for Florida for having the first ever and only African American representing our state right here in our Nation’s capital,” said Waltz. “I’m so proud of the Florida legislature, of then-Governor Rick Scott who signed the legislation to make this happen, to Governor Ron DeSantis who sent the request to allow us all to be here today.”
“After she moved to Florida, she saw a need. She saw that the workers, the Black workers that were building the railroad, the Flagler Railroad that allowed Florida to one day be developed, weren’t getting an education. She saw a need and she addressed it. She started a school with a dollar and fifty cents to train African American young girls and to teach.
“It wasn’t without challenges, though. In one of the stories, the KKK, after the school was up and running, came marching on the small girls’ school with torches, with robes and on horseback. She already had a plan. She told her teaches to disperse, she hid her students, and she stood alone at the gate and stared them down.
“Madam Speaker, in my military career I’ve seen some tough cookies, some tough women, and I guarantee you this is the toughest one in the Hall today.
“And if that wasn’t enough, then she became a member of President Roosevelt’s cabinet and a developed a lifelong friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt who came to stay in Daytona Beach.
“She became a national leader in one generation. From daughter of slaves to national leader for women and civil rights.
“I think her greatest contribution is her last will and testament. She says I leave you love; I leave you hope; I leave you a thirst for education; I leave you faith. She said our aim must be to create a world of fellowship, a world of justice where no man’s skin color or religion is held against him. She said that faith is the first factor of in a life of devoted to service. Without faith, nothing is possible and with it, nothing is impossible.”