Senate Panel Backs Bethune for Statuary Hall

Mary Bethune
Posted at 3:34 PM, Apr 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-13 15:34:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - A state Senate committee Thursday approved a proposal that would place a statue of educator and civil-rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune at the U.S. Capitol, replacing a statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith.

The Legislature voted last year to replace Smith's statue in the National Statuary Hall amid an outcry against Confederate symbols following the 2015 shooting deaths of nine African-American worshipers at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

Each state is allowed to have two representatives in the statuary hall.

Florida has long been represented by Smith and John Gorrie, widely considered the father of air conditioning.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved a measure (SCR 1360), filed by Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, that would lead to placement of a Bethune statue at the hall.

Among other things, Bethune founded what is now Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.

The committee approved the proposal with little discussion, though Yulee resident Seber Newsome III objected to removing the Smith statue. "My ancestors fought for the Confederacy, and I'm proud of them," Newsome said.