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Mary McLeod Bethune

Statue: Mary McLeod Bethune (July 10, 1875 – May 18, 1955)
Location: Lincoln Park, 12th and East Capitol Streets, SE
Dedication: July 10, 1974, 10:30am
Sculptor: Robert Berks
Cost to Taxpayer: $0, $100,000 raised and contributed by the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW)

On July 10, 1974, on what would have been Mary Bethune’s 99th birthday a statue of her was unveiled in Lincoln Park at 12th and East Capitol Streets, SE.

The dedication in Lincoln Park was filled with an estimated 18,000 people from all over the country.  The ceremony included Cicely Tyson reading Mary Bethune’s last will and testament and the statue unveiling.

Following the unveiling, there was a parade from the D.C. Armory to the West Capitol steps where the crowd met with Vice President Gerald Ford and Speaker of the House Carl Albert. Also in attendance were Mrs. King, and Representatives Shirley Chisholm of New York, Barbara Jordan of Texas, and Yvonne Burke of California, the three African-American members of the House at that time.

The dedication celebration lasted three days and included an awards ceremony for African-American women and a concert at the Kennedy Center.

The National Park Service improved Lincoln Park before the ceremony adding benches, trees, and walkways. The Washington Post also reported that the Lincoln Emancipation memorial, 200 yards away from the Bethune statue, was turned so that it face the new memorial.

Memorial Design

The 17-foot bronze statue was sculpted by Robert Berks whose signature styling can be seen at the Kennedy Center in the bust of John F. Kennedy and on Constitution Avenue at the statue for Einstein.

The statue was the first memorial to an African-American women to be erected in a public park in the nation’s capital. The memorial depicts Mary McLeod Bethune standing with a long coat leaning on a cane with her right hand and handing off a scroll to two children.

The cane, presumably, would be a representation of the cane that Elinor Roosevelt gifted to Bethune after the death of FDR. The scroll of learning or knowledge is being handed down to the youths so that they can benefit from education.

The three figures of the statue are placed on a tiered pedestal that forms a table.

Inscription:

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 a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow men. I leave you a responsibility to our young people.

About Mary Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator and a champion of civil rights. She was born in Mayesville, S.C., one of 17 children and her parents, former slaves, were sharecroppers. Despite beginning her education at the age of eleven, she graduated from Scotia Seminary in Concord, N.C. and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

She founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial School for Negro Girls, in 1904, which later became Bethune-Cookman College, and served as president for 40 years.

In 1936, Bethune joined President Roosevelt’s National Youth Administration as director of the Office of Negro Affairs.

Mary McLeod Bethune also founded the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) in 1935 to represent national and international concerns of Black women.  In 1957, Dorothy Irene Height, became its fourth president, and organized the raising of funds for a memorial to Bethune. After Bethune’s death, the NCNW raised $400,000 for a memorial to her. All the contributions came from private citizens.

References

Honoring Mary Bethune: A Proud, Principled Woman, The Washington Post, July 8, 1974

Black Leader’s Statue Unveiled: Mary Bethune Day, by Erwin Washington. The Washington Post; Jul 11, 1974.

Guglielmo Marconi

Statue: Guglielmo Marconi,  April 25, 1874 – July 20, 1937
Location: 16th Street and Lamont Street, NW
Sculptor: Attilio Piccarilli
Architect: Joseph H. Freedlander
Landscape Architect: Joseph C. Gardner
Dedication: Scheduled for the Fall 1941
Cost to Taxpayer: $0, $35,000 raised and contributed by the Marconi Memorial Foundation, Inc. New York

Within months after the death of Guglielmo Marconi there were many people and groups that wanted a memorial to be built to the father of wireless telegraphy.

In August 1937, Representative Dickstein, (D-N.Y.) introduced a resolution calling for the designation of an appropriate memorial for Marconi. In April 1938 President Roosevelt signed a bill authorizing a memorial to Marconi. In 1940, during their thirtieth anniversary meeting, the Commission of Fine Arts approved the plans for the Marconi memorial. And in 1941 the Office of National Capital Parks approved the location at 16th and Lamont Streets.

The memorial cost about $32,555 and was paid for by the Marconi Memorial Foundation. The Foundation, created shortly after the death of Marconi, was headed by Generoso Pope owner of two Italian-language newspapers in New York who organized the memorial funding through contributions.

According to The (Washington) Evening Star, the statue was a gift to the American people as a “token of [American Italians] loyalty and devotion to the United States and its free institutions.”

Marconi was born in Bologna, Italy in 1874 and died in 1937. He took out the first patent on wireless telegraphy based on electric waves in England in 1896.

The statue consists of a pair of pedestals on a granite base. A bronze bust of the inventor, 3 feet 8 inches in height, sits on the smaller pedestal, which is 7 feet high. The memorial is topped with a gilded bronze figure of a woman atop a globe, representing electric waves.

The statue is unique in that it is dedicated to a person associated with technology.

The memorial was scheduled for installation in the Fall of 1941.

The inscription reads:

Erected by popular subscription and presented to the City of Washington

By The Marconi Memorial Foundation

1940

References

D.C. Fine Arts commission 30 Years Old: Makes Anniversary By Approving Plans of Marconi, The Washington Post, May 18, 1940, pg 13

Marconi Memorial to be Erected Here, The Washington Post, March 13, 1941

Marconi to Be Honored, The Washington Post, April 15, 1938

Washington to get Marconi Monument: Of Granite and Bronze, It Will Be Unveiled This Spring, New York Times; Mar 13, 1941; pg. 44

Tomas Garrigue Masaryk

Statue: Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, March 7, 1850 – September 14, 1937
Location
: triangle park at Massachusetts and 22nd Street, NW
Dedication Ceremony: November 2002
Completion Ceremony: March 8, 2003, 2pm
Sculptor: Vincene Makovsky, Czech
Cost: $0, $757,000 for the American Friends of the Czech Republic

The Masaryk statue was a gift to the United States from the Czech Republic.

The idea of having a statue of a Czech citizen in Washington, D.C. was championed by The American Friends of the Czech Republic (AFoCR) in 1999. The group became aware of a statue of Masaryk sculpted just before his death in 1937 by Czech sculptor Vincenc Makovsky. The sculpture had been stored for safekeeping during the Nazi invasion and the Soviet occupation. Once the sculpture was found, AFoCR lobbied Congress to accept the gift and a bill to accept the statue of Masaryk was passed on November 5, 2001.

The design concept for the Masaryk Memorial was approved in June 2002 and the final design approved in July 2002. And in September 2002, the statue of Masaryk was placed in the new T. G. Masaryk Park in Washington, D.C.

Masaryk’s great-granddaughter, Charlotta Kotik, unveiled the statue. It was dedicated by Czech President Vaclav Havel, U.S. Ambassador Craig Stapleton and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. A large crowd attended the ceremony and the U.S. Navy Band played the three national anthems. The stone plaza, landscaping and placement of a descriptive plaque were completed in 2004.

The 12-foot statue shows Masaryk with a hat in one hand and the Declaration of Czech Independence from Austria in the other.

In 1918, Masaryk , along with Eduard Bene, founded Czechoslovakia. Masaryk modeled the Czechoslovak Declaration of Independence closely on the U.S. Declaration. President Woodrow Wilson who had advocated for all countries to be free and democratic after World War I, recognized Masaryk’s exile government as the de facto government of Czechoslovakia on Sept. 3, 1918.

Masaryk’s personal relationships with many Americans most notably President Woodrow Wilson, led to the recognition by the United States of a free Czechoslovakia in 1918. For six months Masaryk traveled throughout the United States writing the Joint Declaration of Independence from Austria that was signed in Philadelphia and issued in Washington on October 18, 1918, where he was declared the President of Czechoslovakia.

Masaryk, the son of a coachman and a cook, became a philosophy professor. He fought anti-Semitism and advocated women’s rights, even taking the family name of his American-born wife, Charlotte Garrigue, as his middle name.

References

A Hero of Democracy Finds a Home; D.C. Park Location Approved for Stored Statue of Czechoslovakia’s Founder. The Washington Post Company Mar 22, 2002.

Checks for Czechs and a Farewell to Havel: The Washington Post [Washington, D.C] 23 Sep 2002: C03.

Metro; In Brief: [FINAL Edition] The Washington Post [Washington, D.C] 08 Mar 2003: B03.

Americans Friends of the Czech Republic: http://www.afocr.org/wilson-monument-and-tg-masaryk-memorial