Mary McLeod Bethune: Jersey City unveils first statue in honor of female civil rights leader


JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) – Jersey City now has its first bronze statue in honor of a female civil rights leader.

A 9-foot monument depicting Mary McLeod Bethune was unveiled on Saturday afternoon in the newly constructed Bethune Park.

Bethune founded a national council for black women and served as president of several organizations for black women.

The statue complements a new park that Jersey City has also named in his honor.

The park is already widely used by neighborhood residents and is a popular extension of the Bethune Community Center located across the street, allowing for more community-centric outdoor programming.

“This monument not only pays homage to a historical leader in civil rights, but it also complements the much-needed park to signify a bright future where children now play together on the new playground, neighbors can bond at game tables, and live music and other events in the amphitheater’s host community, ”said Mayor Steven Fulop.

It is the first statue in the entire city to honor an African-American woman. Officials say that although Bethune is often pictured in her senior years, the Jersey City sculpture is based on a younger version of Bethune in her late twenties and early thirties.

“This monument to Mary McLeod Bethune will allow residents and visitors to encourage people of all ages and ethnicities to embrace education and stand up for their rights,” said the chair of the trust fund committee for the open space and municipal councilor of district B, Mira Prinz-Arey. “It’s a great way to pay tribute to Mary McLeod Bethune, an important person for Jersey City, while bringing art into our public spaces with this sculpture. “

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