Jersey City officials unveiled a brand new, nine-foot statue of Mary McCleod Bethune statue at her namesake park in Ward F earlier this afternoon.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“This monument not only pays homage to a historic civil rights leader, but it also completes the much-needed park to signify a promising future where children now play together on the new playground, neighbors can bond at the gaming tables, and live music and other events in the amphitheater foster community,” Fulop said in a statement.
“This pandemic has emphasized the growing need for accessible outdoor space to allow for more passive recreation and community events. That is exactly what Bethune Park provides to our Greenville residents and all of Jersey City. Additionally, this statue of Ms. Bethune puts a special focus on the importance of education and perseverance, which will empower our residents now and for generations to come,” added Council President Joyce Watterman.
Bethune Center Director Alvin Petit designed a monument that is inspired by a younger version of Bethune in her late 20s to early 30s.
“As a broader significance, this also plays a role in linking our City with a national movement to erect monuments that symbolize diversity and inclusiveness. This will be the first statue in Jersey City to honor the legacy of an African American woman,” he added.
“As an artist, I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to create such a lasting contribution to the city in which I have called home for 30 years.”
The statue of the monumental figure stands strategically in the park’s main entrance as a focal point of the new Bethune Park with the intention of sparking curiosity amongst viewers to engage further into her legacy and contributions to the Jersey City community.
The newly constructed $3.5 million Bethune Park, funded by a Community Development Block Grant and capital funding, includes an amphitheater/concert stage, open-air pavilion, shaded seating area, gaming tables, a playground, and exercise equipment.
The park can be used for recreation, celebrations, farmers’ markets, and other community events. A new parking lot with electric vehicle charging stations was also built nearby to preserve the existing supply of parking.
“This Mary McLeod Bethune monument will empower residents and visitors alike and encourage people of every age and ethnicity to embrace education and stand up for one’s rights,” noted Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey, who chairs the Open Space Trust Fund Committee.
“This is a great way to pay tribute to Mary McLeod Bethune, someone who is important to Jersey City, while also bringing art into our public spaces with this sculpture.”