Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune statue unveiled in Daytona Beach before move to U.S. Capitol

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — An 11-foot marble statue of educator, activist and entrepreneur Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was unveiled in Daytona Beach on Monday.

Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry called the unveiling, “our city’s proudest moment.”

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The statue is slated to make history when it is moved to its permanent home in the U.S. Capitol as one of the two greatest Floridians in Florida’s history, as the statue of Bethune will be the first African American to represent a state in National Statuary Hall.

“When I saw it, I got weak in the knees. I actually fell,” said Hiram Powell, the interim president of Bethune-Cookman University. “I was so overcome because I was standing front and center and her eyes caught mine and I can’t describe the feeling to you.”

READ: Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune statue bound for D.C. to be unveiled during special ceremony in Daytona

The three-ton statue was sculpted by Florida artist Nilda Comas, the first Hispanic master sculptor chosen for the Statuary Hall State Collection. The statue, created by Comas in Pietrasanta, Italy, began as an 11.5-ton block of statuario marble excavated from Michelangelo’s cave in the Apuan Italian Alps in Tuscany.

The city of Daytona Beach, where Bethune lived, and the city in which she founded Bethune-Cookman University, will display the statue for a limited time.

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The statue will be on display at the News-Journal Center, 221 N. Beach St., Daytona Beach, through Dec. 12. Click here to reserve free tickets to the exhibit.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.