Members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus will be joined by Speaker of the Florida House, the Honorable Chris Sprowls, and Interim President of Bethune Cookman University, Dr. Hiram Powell during a Black History Month Salute to the Florida Legislature and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 from 6 to 8 p.m. in room 314 of the House Office Building of the State Capitol.
The event was coordinated by State Representative and former Senator Geraldine F. Thompson who serves as Historian to the Florida Legislative Black Caucus. Representative Thompson stated that the salute celebrates the placement of a statue of Dr. Bethune as one of two to represent Florida in the National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building.
Members of the Florida Legislature voted in 2017 to be represented in Statuary Hall by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, thereby claiming the distinction of being the only state in the Nation to vote to be represented in Statuary Hall by an African American woman. The statue of Dr. Bethune was carved in Pietrasanta, Italy by sculptor Nilda Comas, the first Hispanic sculptor chosen to create a piece for the National Statuary Hall. Comas was one of 1,600 applicants who responded to a call for artists from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. Of the 10 finalists selected, she was the only female artist. The statue of Dr. Bethune was carved from marble culled from the same Tuscan quarry Michelangelo used for his masterpiece statue of David around the year 1500.
The Bethune statue was temporarily displayed in Daytona before it transported to Washington, D.C. for placement in Statuary Hall. A life size reproduction of the statue will be on display during the February 17th Black History Month Salute as will other exhibits that highlight the contributions of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and her journey to Statuary Hall. The Florida Legislative Black Caucus Black History Salute is free and open to the public; however, attendees as asked to register at FLBlackCaucus.com/Black-History-Programs.