LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – More than 100 people filled the old Lake County Courthouse Tuesday for the unveiling of a new statue honoring Dr. Mary Mcleod Bethune.
The statue will now be a permanent piece of Lake County’s Historical Museum.
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Standing at just over 2 feet tall, it’s a smaller version of the statue unveiled in Washington, D.C. in July.
The master sculptor, Nilda Comas, shared details about the statue with News 6 and said it was made with the same marble block she used for the statue that’s in the U.S. Capitol.
“I’ve been preparing for this all my life, I feel,” Comas said. “I wanted to do legacies, so Dr. Bethune was just amazing, like, I say that I was able to work on.”
Comas, a native of Puerto Rico who studied her craft in Italy, sculpted the two marble statues to pay homage to Dr. Bethune.
The first statue installed inside the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall stands at 11 feet tall and replaced the statue of a Confederate general.
“They are both magnificent because, like I say, it’s about love, and even in Washington, you felt the people moved after they saw the sculpture,” Comas said.
Dr. Bethune is one of America’s most inspirational educators and a famous national civil rights champion who fought for African American women’s rights and advancement throughout her life and career.
“This day was incredible for me. It took me back to when I was a first grader at the segregated school,” Theo Bob, a member of the board of directors for the Lake County Historical Society, said.
Bob said Dr. Bethune’s legacy helped pave the way for his success. Dr. Bethune fought against school segregation and inadequate health care for children. Her life was devoted to improving opportunities for African Americans.
Bob said he hopes today’s generation will continue her work.
“If our younger generation could remember her last will of testament: I leave you hope, I leave you peace, I leave you all these things, and to love your fellow man, that’s awesome. If we can pass that down to ‘em, we would’ve done a great service,” Bob said.
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