Governor Rick Scott says putting a likeness of Mary McLeod Bethune in National Statuary Hall is the right thing to do for Floridians. The activist could make history, if she replaces a Confederate General as one of two statues representing Florida in Washington D.C.
Earlier this week, Scott signed a bill into law that allows educator and civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune to replace Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith.
“She was a wonderful person,” he said, speaking to reporters Thursday. “She reflects our state. She’s somebody who made sure children could get education when children weren’t getting a great education. So, I’m proud to have signed that legislation that did that. I signed the legislation two years ago to start the process. So, I want to thank the legislation for a good bill.”
Scott’s approval means Bethune could be the first black woman to appear in National Statuary Hall. The new law—taking effect July 1—is essentially an official request to the Joint Committee of the Library Congress to make that happen. If approved, Bethune’s statute could join John Gorrie’s—the father of air-conditioning. Meanwhile, the new law also directs the Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs take back the returned statue of Edmund Kirby Smith and make it available to the public.
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