The month of February is Black History Month, and lawmakers across the country like Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz are out pointing out the accomplishments and contributions African-Americans such as Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, have made to American History.
During her townhall-style “A Conversation for Black History Month” gathering in Miramar, Florida, Rep. Wasserman Schultz, talked about the importance of Black History Month before she sat down to talk with Sculptor Nilda Comas, who was commissioner to sculpt the statue of Dr. Bethune that now stands in Statuary Hall inside the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
“It’s important to know that Black History Month is really not, even significantly, about discrimination or about civil rights. Black History Month is about making sure that we educate Americans about historic contributions that African Americans have made throughout American history,” said Wasserman Schultz. “Black history is American history…Black History Month is about African-American heritage, contributions, and culture, being part and woven into the rich tapestry of the United States of America.”
In 2017, Rep. Wasserman Schultz led Florida’s congressional delegation in urging the Florida Legislature to call a special session to replace the existing Confederate general statue that represented the state in Statuary Hall inside the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The statue of General Edmund Kirby Smith was replaced by Comas’ statue of Dr. Bethune and unveiled in the Capitol on July 13, 2022.
Interestingly enough, Puerto Rican-born Comas became the first artist of Puerto Rican descent commissioned to create a sculpture for the national statuary hall collection.
During their discussion, Comas seemed to speak about all of Dr. Bethune’s lifetime philanthropic, humanitarian, and civil rights work.
Comas spoke about how politically influential Bethune was, having been the only female member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cabinet, and having the ear of several US presidents including that of President Roosevelt.
Comas also spoke of why Dr. Bethune walked around with a cane, saying that it wasn’t because she had a problem walking, but because she need it for “protection.”
“Her family said that every time, after she was moving on in the world, that every time she came back to their hometown, she needed protection. She always had protection from the government because she had so many threat,” said Comas
While the discussion was about Bethune and Black History Month, Wasserman Schultz did manage to sneak in a few political jabs at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Governor Rick Scott.
Wasserman Schultz called Gov. DeSantis’s recent ban of AP African American studies “inappropriate and unacceptable.”