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Volusia County Council approves a $25,000 contribution for the Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune bronze statue, which will adorn Daytona Beach.

Wed, Feb 16, 2022 at 9:50AM

Written by Kristen Schmutz

Belden Communications News 

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The Volusia County Council approved a contribution of $25,000 to help pay for a similar, though slightly smaller bronze statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, which will adorn Daytona Beach.

According to a release, the smaller version of the marble statue will sit atop a marble pedestal at the Bethune pavilion at the Riverfront Esplanade Park facing west in the direction of Bethune-Cookman University, which Dr. Bethune founded. The Bethune Pavilion is currently under construction along the west bank of the Halifax River in downtown Daytona Beach. 

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was a civil rights pioneer, presidential advisor, and charter member of the United Nations.

“I just think it’s important that we be a part of this historic time,” Councilwoman Barb Girtman said in support of the county’s $25,000 contribution. “It is a legacy that we will never forget, and neither will our children, their children, and those beyond.”

The larger marble sculpture was on public display at the News-Journal Center in Daytona Beach for two months before making its way to Washington, D.C., with an unveiling in Statuary Hall to be held on July 13.

The 8-foot-tall bronze statue unveiling is tentatively scheduled for the Riverfront Esplanade Park on August 18, where it will remain on display for the public’s enjoyment. Nancy Lohman, who spearheaded the local efforts to get both statues funded and built, and her group have also commissioned a feature-length documentary about Dr. Bethune’s life that they hope to premiere on the same day of the statue unveiling. 

“This is one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had,” said Councilwoman Billie Wheeler. “It has been a journey. But it’s been one that we are all so proud of this historical moment.”

The costs associated with the bronze statue include $150,000 to sculpt it and another $30,000-$60,000 to create and install the pedestal. 

The $25,000 contribution from Volusia County will come from the ECHO program that voters approved to help fund the acquisition, restoration, construction, and improvement of environmental, cultural, historic, and outdoor recreation projects for public use. The statue fulfills both the cultural and historical components of the program.

A school curriculum is also in the works to instruct Volusia County K-12 students about the life and legacy of Dr. Bethune, who died at her home in Daytona Beach in 1955 at the age of seventy-nine.


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