July 10, 2014

On this day July 10th

DARC Ethiophile Chronicles

On this day

July 10, 1875, Mary McLeod Bethune was born in Maysville, South Carolina.  

The child of former slaves Ms. Bethune graduated from the Scotia Seminary for Girls in 1893.   For nearly a decade, Ms. Bethune worked as an educator. She believed that education provided the key to racial advancement. To that end, Ms. Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls in Daytona, Florida, in 1904. Starting out with only five students, she helped grow the school to more 250 students over the next years.  

 

Ms. Bethune served as the school's president, and she remained its leader even after it was combined with the Cookman Institute for Men in 1923 (some sources say 1929). The merged institution became known as the Bethune-Cookman College. The college was one of the few places that African-American students could pursue a college degree. Ms. Bethune stayed with the college until 1942.  

In addition to her work at the school, Ms. Bethune did much to contribute to American society at large. She served as the president of the Florida chapter of the National Association of Colored Women for many years. In 1924, Ms. Bethune became the organization's national leader, beating out fellow reformer Ida B. Wells for the top post.   Ms. Bethune also became involved in government service, lending her expertise to several presidents. President Calvin Coolidge invited her to participate a conference on child welfare. For President Herbert Hoover, she served on Commission on Home Building and Home Ownership and was appointed to a committee on child health. But her most significant roles in public service came from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  

In 1935, Ms. Bethune became a special advisor to President Roosevelt on minority affairs. That same year, she also started up her own civil rights organization, the National Council of Negro Women. Bethune created this organization to represent numerous groups working on critical issues for African-American women. She received another appointment from President Roosevelt the following year. In 1936, she became the director of the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration. One of her main concerns in this position was helping young people find job opportunities. In addition to her official role in the Roosevelt administration, Ms. Bethune became a trusted friend and adviser to both the president and his wife Eleanor Roosevelt.  

Ms. Bethune transitioned into the realm of ancestry in 1955.

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