Published on The Black Star News on 15th March 2021
Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator, activist and an active member of the Roosevelt Administration. Bethune was born on 10th July 1875 in South Carolina. She was one of seventeen children. Her parents were born slaves, but she and two of her siblings were born free. From a young age, she was educated at Maysville School, a missionary school for African Americans, and received a scholarship at Scotia Seminary school for Girls in North Carolina, where she graduated in 1894. Her initial ambition was to become a missionary in African countries, but she changed her mind and ardently believed that it was more important for her to stay in the US and make a position difference to the lives of Black people in America.
She married Alfred Bethune in 1898, whom she had a son with. The marriage was brief, and she went on to raise her son by herself. She taught at various schools in Illinois, Georgia, Carolina until settling in Florida, where she founded a hospital, a high school and a college named Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls. Her college merged with another college and became Bethune- Cookman College, where Bethune held the position of one of the Presidents of the College. She was one the few black women in the country at this time to hold this position. In addition, Bethune worked for the Roosevelt Administration and was close friends with Eleanor Roosevelt. Her position allowed her to advocate for policies that challenged racial segregation and discrimination.