Black History Month
Born on July 10, 1875, in Mayesville, South Carolina, Mary McLeod Bethune was a child of former slaves. She graduated from the Scotia Seminary for Girls in 1893. Believing that education provided the key to racial advancement, Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute in 1904, which later became the Bethune-Cookman College. She founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935.
One of the nation's leading educators and activities, Mary McLeod Bethune spent much of the rest of her life devoted to social causes after leaving Bethune-Cookman College in 1942. She took up residence at its new National Council of Negro Women headquarters in a Washington, DC townhouse in 1943 and lived there for several years. An early member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, she helped represent the group at the 1945 conference on the founding of the United Nations along with W.E.B. DuBois. In the early 1950s, President Harry Truman appointed her to a committee on national defense and appointed her to serve as an official delegate to a presidential inauguration in Liberia.
Eventually returning to Florida in her retirement, Bethune died on May 18, 1955, in Daytona, Florida. She is remembered for her work to advance the rights of both African Americans and women.