Black education pioneer Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune will have her own state-commissioned statue placed in the National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol, People reports.
This is the first time a Black figure will be featured in the honorary lineup. Bethune will also represent “one of only a few women” representing a state among the 100 statues.
Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith will be replaced, making room for Bethune's 11-foot marble figure, permanently. The statue will be situated in the hall in Feb. 2022, NBC reports.
Bethune is decorated in a cap and gown in the statue, commemorating her contributions to education, and she stands in front of a stack of books. She wears a pearl necklace while holding a black rose in one hand and a walking stick in the other.
The statue is in Daytona Beach for public viewing until Dec. 12 before being transported to Washington, D.C., WESH 2 reports.
Bethune was known for having a passion for education, and she served as presidential adviser to many U.S. presidents, including Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The daughter of former enslaved people, Bethune founded an all-girls school for Black people in 1904 with only $1.50, Ocala StarBanner reports. The school eventually merged with then all-male Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida, to become Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.
Bethune-Cookman received a junior college accreditation in 1931 by the Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools of the Southern States.
“Dr. Bethune embodies the very best of the Sunshine State," U.S. Rep Kathy Castor, said at a press conference back in October. "Floridians and all Americans can take great pride in being represented by the great educator and civil rights icon.”
"I am glad that she is being rightfully recognized here in Florida before she travels to her place of honor and recognition by all of America in the U.S. Capitol,” she added.
Bethune’s statue was crafted by sculptor Nilda Comas, a Hispanic woman who spent nearly three years carving out the blueprint of the historical figure.