Volusia County approves $25K contribution for Bethune statue

The Volusia County Council recently approved a $25,000 contribution to help pay for a bronze statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune to be placed in Riverfront Esplanade Park in Daytona Beach, according to a county media release.

Very similar, though slightly smaller than the marble sculpture that will represent Florida in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., the bronze statue will sit atop a marble pedestal and face west, in the direction of Bethune-Cookman University.

The marble sculpture spent two months on public display at the News-Journal Center in Daytona Beach before making its way to Washington. It’s scheduled to be unveiled in Statuary Hall on July 13, according to Nancy Lohman, who spearheaded the local efforts to get both statues funded and built. The 8-foot-tall bronze statue is tentatively scheduled to have its unveiling at Riverfront Esplanade Park on Aug. 18, where it will remain on display for the public’s enjoyment.

“I just think it’s really important that we be a part of this historic time,” Councilwoman Barb Girtman said in the release. “It’s a legacy that we’ll never forget, and neither will our children, their children and those beyond.”

In addition to the two statues, Lohman and her group have also commissioned a feature-length documentary about Dr. Bethune’s life that they hope to premiere on the same day that the local statue is unveiled. A school curriculum also is being developed to teach K-12 students about the legacy of Dr. Bethune, who died at her home in Daytona Beach in 1955 at the age of 79.