Mary McLeod Bethune and Her Enduring Legacy

Born from parents who were former slaves, along with 16 other siblings, in a humble July 10, 1875. Mary McLeod Bethune grew up in poverty, racism and gender inequality, but she didn’t let it define her, so she traveled miles every day to a school led by a missionary in pursuit of using education as a tool. As 1 child of 17, she was the only one who had the privilege to do so. As they say, “What you sow is what you reap.” Bethune received a scholarship to Scotia Seminary in North Carolina which then encouraged her more to acquire more education in Dwight Moody’s Institute for Home and Foreign Missions (biography.


Finding no church to fund for her to become a missionary, Mary McLeod Bethune headed home to the south and began her career in teaching knowing well who and where the need and demand of education was. She then met and married a fellow teacher, Albertus Bethune. She bore him a son, and when their marriage ended in 1904, determined to support her son, Bethune opened Daytona Beach Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls – which became one of the first schools for African American girls.

And in 1943, the industrial school which had become a college, merged with Cookman Institute and offered its first degrees (Michals).

Bethunes works in building and educating African American girls speaks for itself in terms of her great contribution as an educator and prominent female African Americans who formed the foundation for future African-American generation.

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But like what she did when she was young – she continued on, denying to be defined just by her race and occupation, she founded many organizations, but one stood out in a more politically oriented way – The National Council of Negro Women, where she became its president in 1924. Aside from her success in schools, organizations, she also became the first African American Woman to be involved in the white house – supporting minorities, which resulted in giving the colored people the right to do the same things white men do. In 1936, she was appointed by President Roosevelt to be the director of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration – where she fought to end discrimination and lynching. Addressing in front of her people, her views on how important education and action is (J.L Woods).

Having founded and affiliated with many organizations and people, Bethune carried on until the late days of her life, ensuring the availability of education for African Americans, and integration in terms of Arm Corps. Mary McLeod Bethune died on May 18, 1955, she left with the words – “I leave you a thirst for education. Knowledge is the prime need of the hour” and “If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of living and serving’ (

Works Cited

  1. Michals, Debra. “Mary McLeod Bethune.” National Women’s History Museum, 2015,
  2. Feb 09,2019.
  3. “Mary McLeod Bethune.”, A&E Networks Television, 17 Jan. 2019,
  4. Feb 09,2019.
  5. Woods, J. L. “Bethune, Mary McLeod.” Carnegie, Andrew | Learning to Give,
  6. Feb 09,2019.
  7. “Bethune Résumé.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior,
  8. Feb 09, 2019
  9. Brock, Darlene. “Mary Bethune, an Educator Living a Life of Grit.” The Grit and Grace
  10. Project, 30 Mar. 2017, Feb 09, 2019

Cite this page

Mary McLeod Bethune and Her Enduring Legacy. (2021, Mar 05). Retrieved from

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