Bethune, Mary McLeod
Bethune, Mary McLeod(bəthyo͞on`), 1875–1955, American educator, b. Mayesville, S.C., grad. Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, 1895. The 17th child of former slaves, she taught (1895–1903) in a series of southern mission schools before settling in Florida to found (1904) the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls. From 1904 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1947, she served as president of the institute, which, after merging with Cookman Institute (1923), became Bethune-Cookman College. A leader in the American black community, she founded the National Council of Negro Women (1935) and was director (1936–44) of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration. In addition, she served as special adviser on minority affairs to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. At the 1945 conference that organized the United Nations, she was a consultant on interracial understanding.
See biography by R. Holt (1964).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
Bethune, Mary McLeod(1875–1955) educator, civil/women's rights activist; born in Mayesville, S.C. A child of former slaves, she began her life picking cotton, but a scholarship to Scotia Seminary in North Carolina in 1888 launched her long and distinguished career as educator and activist. Believing that education provided the key to racial advancement, she founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute (Fla.) (1904), which through her persistent direction as president (1904–42) became Bethune-Cookman College in 1929. An activist, she mobilized thousands of black women as leader and founder of the National Association of Colored Women and the National Council of Negro Women. A national figure, she served in the Roosevelt administration as adviser to the president on minority affairs and director of the Division of Negro Affairs within the National Youth Administration (1936–44). Through her efforts to promote full citizenship rights for all African-Americans and her feminist perspective, she came to symbolize the dual role black women played as activists for the rights of blacks and women.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.