Mary McLeod Bethune statue could come to museum embroiled in Confederate controversy

A statue of civil rights activist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune could soon be on display at a Lake County museum plagued by controversy over a Confederate statue. 

For years, there was community tension over the statue of Edmund Kirby Smith, a Confederate general. 

Carey Baker, who sits on the historical society’s board, said at this point the statue will not be on display in Lake County and it is now up to the state to decide where to display it. 

It was a hard-fought battle for community leaders like NAACP president Martha Taylor who protested the statue’s addition. 

She believes a statue of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune would be more widely accepted. 

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"Knowing that Confederate statue is not coming to Lake County, and to have a positive statue, like Mary McLeod Bethune, will help the county, will help the community, will help the people to heal," she said. 

Baker said a Florida-based artist is creating a statue of Dr. Bethune to be displayed in Washington, D.C. He said that the same artist has agreed to make a smaller replica for the historical society. 

"We had a discussion with her that we would maybe love to have her sculpt a copy of the Mary Bethune statue for us for the museum," he said.

Baker said they would need to raise about $30,000 to complete the project. 

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