Nilda Comas’ Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Installed in Capitol

On July 13, NSS Elected Member, Nilda Comas’ portrait of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was unveiled at the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. The 11-foot-tall sculpture represents Florida, and commemorates Bethune, a world-renowned Florida educator, pioneer and activist. Bethune’s statue replaces a nearly 100-year-old bronze sculpture of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith and is the first Black person selected by a state for National Statuary Hall. Born into a family of South Carolina slaves, Bethune opened her own school for Black girls in 1904 with only $1.50 and just six students.  That school would become Bethune-Cookman College in 1929 and today it operates as Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL.  Comas carved the piece from a 11.5 ton piece of marble quarried from the same Tuscan quarry that Michelangelo used in the Italian Alps. At the foot of her statue is McLeod Bethune’s famous quote: “Invest in the human soul. Who knows, it may be a diamond in the rough.”

The event was attended by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn as well as other lawmakers and activists.