DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - One of Daytona's most cherished historical icons received a well deserved commemoration Thursday morning. An eight-foot tall statue of Mary McLeod Bethune was unveiled at the Riverfront Explanade Bethune Pavillion on Beach Street.
Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry was on hand to speak about the continued legacy of Bethune, whose impact on the community is profound to this day. Bethune was a pioneer in education for black Daytona residents, founding the Educational and Industrial Training School for Girls in 1904. It would later merge into Bethune Cookman-College, which became Bethune-Cookman University in 2008.
It continues an eventful summer for the remembrance of Bethune; she was enshrined as one of Florida's two representatives in the National Statuary Hall in Washington D.C. on July 13th.
Mayor Henry delivered a rousing address at the base of Bethune's statue. “I hope that the statue’s presence in this intermediary space that sits between the world’s most famous beach and the site, a former dump, but the birthplace of Dr. Bethune’s greatest vision, her greatest dream which came to fruition in the place and presence of the great Bethune-Cookman University.”