Florida lawmakers recently pass a bill that authorized replacing a Confederate statute with a statue honoring a black woman. This week, Florida governor Rick Scott made the change official, signing the bill into law, according to ABC News.
The move will remove a Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith statue that currently stands in the U.S. Capitol building, and will replace it with a monument to educator Mary McLeod Bethune. Bethune founded Bethune-Cookman University, one of the first historically black colleges in Daytona Beach, Florida.
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Congress allows each state two statues in Statuary Hall. While several states have statues honoring Confederates in the hall, Bethune's monument will be the first to honor a black woman.
This new statue comes as a result of a long debate that erupted after Charlotteville last year. In Florida, several Confederate street names were changed following the violence there, and lawmakers voted to take a Confederate holiday off the books.
National lawmakers have been fighting to remove Confederate monuments in Washington, D.C. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) has sponsored legislation to remove these monuments, and said of them, "Those who committed treason against the United States of America and led our nation into its most painful and bloody war are not patriots and should not be afforded such a rare honor in this sacred space."
The Florida bill has been in the works for nearly two years. Bethune was chosen to replace the Confederate due to her contributions to education.
In one of the last articles she wrote, Bethune said, "I leave you a thirst for education. Knowledge is the prime need of the hour, and If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of living and serving."