Coed finds new Bethune statue is a source of inspiration


By Shay Myrthil

A marble statue of B-CU founder Mary McLeod Bethune beckons all that venture to the News-Journals Center in downtown Daytona Beach.
A marble statue of B-CU founder Mary McLeod Bethune beckons all that venture to the News-Journals Center in downtown Daytona Beach.

The 11-foot marble statue of Mary McLeod Bethune that was recently unveiled at the News-Journal Center here in Daytona Beach is, in my opinion, a must see! Don't miss it.

It is a prime opportunity for people to learn about the history of Mary herself and the legacy she leaves behind at Bethune-Cookman University. The statue will remain in Daytona Beach until mid- December before its transported to the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., where it will be placed in National Statuary Hall to represent the state of Florida.

Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator and activist who dedicated her life to learning. Her statue will forever be a reminder of the great accomplishments and sacrifices she made. Those who see this statue will learn about this inspiring woman and the legacy she left behind.

Nilda Comas is the sculptor responsible for creating the beautiful masterpiece. After three years of waiting, Comas was able to begin the project. The marble that was used to create the sculpture was carved out from Michelangelo's cave in the Apian Italian Alps in Tuscany. The hollow base is 3 feet tall to help decrease the weight of the sculpture. The actual sculpture itself is 8 feet tall, weighing 6,129 pounds of pure white marble.

The sculpture has many different symbols that reflect the ideologies and devotion Bethune demonstrated throughout her life. The graduation cap worn by Bethune in the sculpture is a symbol of her hard work and dedication towards education. She always believed in the power of education and believed in her students. The rose is a representation of diversity. It is said that after visiting a rose garden in Europe, Bethune began referring to her students as "black roses." The books stacked at the foot of the statue represent education in all its forms. Learning is a powerful tool that is to be used to serve one's community, a lesson Bethune devoted her life to teaching.

I had the opportunity to see the sculpture in person and it made me feel proud. Being an African-American woman during her time could not have been easy. Even so, she persevered and accomplished great things.

As a young African-American woman, I learned from Bethune the importance of education and how I'm able to use it to my advantage. Having a hunger for learning is a tool that I am able to use to strive to be the best version of myself.

Education is the key to success and she has inspired me to work harder to excel in anything and everything I do. Her statue will always be a visual reminder of what she fought for and devoted her life to. I am overjoyed to be a part of the legacy she left behind.

Meanwhile, a smaller bronze version of the statue is set to grace downtown Daytona Beach next year in the new Riverfront Esplanade Park along Beach Street.