Florida Senate - 2018 SB 472 By Senator Thurston 33-00703-18 2018472__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the National Statuary Hall; 3 requesting the Joint Committee on the Library of 4 Congress to approve the replacement of the statue of 5 Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith in the National 6 Statuary Hall Collection with a statue of Mary McLeod 7 Bethune; providing that the act is an official request 8 to the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress; 9 requiring the Department of State to deliver copies of 10 the act to certain persons on the act’s effective 11 date; providing an effective date. 12 13 WHEREAS, in March 2016, the Florida Legislature passed, and 14 the Governor signed into law, Senate Bill 310, authorizing the 15 replacement of the statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby 16 Smith in the National Statuary Hall Collection with a statue of 17 a prominent Florida citizen recommended by the ad hoc committee 18 of the Great Floridians Program within the Division of 19 Historical Resources of the Department of State, and 20 WHEREAS, one of the three prominent Florida citizens 21 recommended by the ad hoc committee is Mary McLeod Bethune, and 22 WHEREAS, Mary McLeod Bethune was born on July 10, 1875, in 23 Mayesville, South Carolina, and she was the first member of her 24 family, including all of her 16 siblings, born free following 25 the conclusion of the Civil War, and 26 WHEREAS, beginning at a young age, Mary McLeod Bethune 27 became engaged with learning and teaching after receiving an 28 opportunity to attend Trinity Presbyterian Mission School in her 29 hometown, and her dedication was evidenced through attending as 30 many classes as she could and teaching her parents and siblings 31 what she had learned, and 32 WHEREAS, Mary McLeod Bethune was awarded a scholarship 33 allowing her to enroll at the then-Scotia Seminary for Girls in 34 Concord, North Carolina, from which she graduated in 1893, and 35 she went on to continue her studies at the Moody Bible Institute 36 in Chicago, and 37 WHEREAS, upon graduating from the Moody Bible Institute, 38 Mary McLeod Bethune became a teacher and taught at schools in 39 Georgia and South Carolina before moving to Florida to teach at 40 the Palatka Mission School, and 41 WHEREAS, through observing the burgeoning black population 42 in the area prompted by labor needed for railroad construction, 43 Mary McLeod Bethune decided to follow through with her dream of 44 opening her own school, and 45 WHEREAS, Mary McLeod Bethune bought a small cottage in 46 Daytona Beach to allow for the opening of the Daytona Literary 47 and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904 and 48 through her commitment to fundraising, the school’s enrollment 49 grew from 5 to 250 students in just 2 years, and 50 WHEREAS, the school continued to grow, which eventually 51 resulted in its merger with the Cookman Institute for Men in 52 Jacksonville to form Bethune-Cookman College, where she later 53 served as president, and 54 WHEREAS, Mary McLeod Bethune’s advocacy continued with her 55 founding of the National Council of Negro Women and her 56 appointment as Director of the Division of Negro Affairs of the 57 National Youth Administration by President Franklin Delano 58 Roosevelt, and 59 WHEREAS, through her position as the highest ranking 60 African-American woman in the Federal Government, Mary McLeod 61 Bethune was able to assist African-American youth in finding 62 employment and worked with the Women’s Army Corps during World 63 War II to recruit African-American female officers, and 64 WHEREAS, upon her death in 1955, Mary McLeod Bethune’s 65 inspirational leadership was praised by many, including former 66 First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who lauded “her wisdom and her 67 goodness,” and 68 WHEREAS, in 1995, the United States National Park Service 69 established the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National 70 Historic Site in Washington, D.C., which has preserved the 71 townhouse that was once her personal residence and the first 72 headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women, and 73 WHEREAS, Mary McLeod Bethune’s legacy continues to be felt 74 in Florida through the continued success of Bethune-Cookman 75 University, whose enrollment is currently approaching a record 76 high of 4,000 students, and 77 WHEREAS, it is appropriate to honor Mary McLeod Bethune as 78 one of two Floridians memorialized in statues in the National 79 Statuary Hall Collection given her significant and continuing 80 impact on this state, NOW, THEREFORE, 81 82 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 83 84 Section 1. The Legislature of the State of Florida hereby 85 respectfully requests the Joint Committee on the Library of 86 Congress to approve the replacement of the statue of Confederate 87 General Edmund Kirby Smith in the National Statuary Hall 88 Collection with a statue of Mary McLeod Bethune. 89 Section 2. This act shall serve as an official request to 90 the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress pursuant to 2 91 U.S.C. s. 2132. 92 Section 3. On the effective date of this act, the 93 Department of State shall deliver a copy of this act to the 94 President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United 95 States House of Representatives, the Joint Committee on the 96 Library of Congress, and to each member of the Florida 97 delegation to the United States Congress. 98 Section 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 2018.