The Mary McLeod Bethune Emancipation Memorial is located in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C. in Lincoln Park where North Carolina and Massachusetts Avenues cross and in between 13th and 11th Streets NE. It was constructed in 1973 and dedicated in 1974 by the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. while Dr. Dorothy Height was serving as it’s President. The National Council of Negro Women, Inc. raised the 150,000 dollars necessary to erect the monument over a period of 13 years. At the time of it’s construction, this monument was the first to honor an African American in Washington, D.C.
The sculptor for this monument was none other than the famous bronze sculptor Robert Berks. Robert Berks has created more than a dozen monuments and more than three hundred portraits in bronze. The monument is consturcted out of bronze on a base made out of aggregate concrete and containing bronze plaques. The sculpture measures 10 ft. (height) x 15.5 ft. (length) x 9 ft. (width) and the base measures 6 ft. (height) x 25 ft. (length) x 20 ft. (width).
Mary McLeod Bethune’s Emancipation Memorial consists of Mary McLeod Bethune standing with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cane in her right hand, a scroll in her left hand and two young African American children around her. The children’s arms are extended and Mary McLeod Bethune is giving them the scroll. This scroll represents her “Legacy of Learning” which she is passing on to the children.
The inscription on the monument comes from Mary McLeod Bethune’s Last Will and Testament. It reads as follows:
I leave you love. • I leave you hope. • I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. • I leave you a thirst for education. • I leave you a respect for the use of power. • I leave you faith. • I leave you racial dignity. • I leave you also a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow man. • I leave you finally a responsibility to our young people.
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