Mary McLeod Bethune Statue Installed in the Capitol

“Invest in the human soul.
Who knows, it may be a diamond in the rough.”

Statue of Mary McLeod Bethune, unveiled at the Capitol on July 13, 2013. Credit:

This famous quote by the educator and civil rights activist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) is inscribed on the pedestal of her statue, recently installed in Statuary Hall at the US Capitol. Her statue replaces that of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith. The daughter of formerly enslaved parents, Bethune, founder of the Council of Negro Women, advised multiple US presidents. She was the only woman to serve in FDR’s “Black Cabinet,” and he appointed her to head the New Deal’s National Youth Administration (NYA). The 11-foot marble statue, by the Hispanic sculptor Nilda Comas, depicts Bethune holding a walking stick, a symbol of wise leadership. The walking stick is modeled on the one Bethune received as a gift from President Roosevelt.