Fact 11: Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune was born in Maysville, South Carolina, she was the second to youngest child out of 16 other siblings. One day, a black woman who was starting a missionary school, offered the McLeod children to attend her school but Mary’s family could only afford to send one child and Mary was the child they chose. While at the school, she took as many classes as she could. Randomly, a woman in Denver, Colorado offered the school Mary attended, scholarship money for one student to continue to going to school. Mary was chosen and she went to the Scotia Seminary School for Girls from 1888-1893 in Concord, North Carolina.

After graduating from Scotia, she attended the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. She then moved to Daytona, Florida where she started The Daytona Normal and Industrial School for Negro Girls, in 1904.It was a private school.

When she first started it, only five students attended. In just two years, the school expanded to 250 students. The school was so successful that it merged with the Cook Institute for Men in 1923 or 1929. There are several sources that say both of the two (wide range, I know, but I’m just reporting the facts lol.) Anyhow, the school became known as the Bethune-Cook College.

She has other accomplishments such becoming the President chapter president of the National Association of Colored Women. Later on, she became the National Leader of the Organization. She was involved in government services with past Presidents such Calvin Coolridge, Herbert Hoover, Theodore Roosevelt and even gained a close relationship with his wife Eleanor; she also worked with Harry Truman.

photo credit: thesavvysistah.com

Before her death in 1955, she had a spiritual bequest stating ” I leave you a thirst for education. Knowledge is the prime need for the hour–of I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of living and serving.”

Featured image photo credit: cookman.edu

Sources: biography.com; pbs.com; ncnw.org

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