Updated: Mar 13, 2022
To honor Black History Month and the life of an extraordinary woman, this week we turn our attention to Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.
With only $1.50 USD, a vision, faith in God and an entrepreneurial spirit, Dr. Bethune started the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training Institute for Negro Girls in 1904.
Dr. Bethune was the first in her family not to be born into slavery and became an educator, national civil rights pioneer and activist. She also became an advisor to American Presidents and ultimately one of the most influential women of her generation.
Seeing a lack of medical treatment and health disparities available to African Americans in Daytona Beach, Dr. Bethune also founded the Mary McLeod Hospital and Training School for Nurses--which at that time was the only school to train African American women on the east coast.
Other accomplishments of Dr. Bethune’s:
Her school Daytona Normal expanded and merged with the Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida and became Bethune-Cookman College
She founded the highly influential National Council of Negro Women
Dr. Bethune was appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the National Youth Administration
She was the Director of Negro Affairs, which oversaw the training of tens of thousands of Black youth
She was the only female member of President Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet
Dr. Bethune made the most of her close friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to lobby to integrate the Civilian Pilot Training Program into Black colleges and universities--which led to graduating some of America’s first Black pilots
There’s more! She was one of the founders for the United Negro College Fund.
She racially integrated the Red Cross
Dr. Bethune was the only woman of color at the founding conference of the United Nations!
She led the US delegation to Liberia
Dr. Bethune served on National Defense
She received an honorary doctorate from Rollins College
In 2021, Dr. Bethune became the first African American to represent a state in the National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol
May Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune be remembered and honored for her valuable contributions. Thank you, Dr. Bethune!
Throughout history, countless women have been denied acknowledgement for their contributions. Untold stories of women’s brilliance, tenacity, courage and creativity leave a gaping hole in humanity’s evolutionary path.
New World Women choose to tell some of these women’s stories in this Weekly Connection series we’re calling Sharing Her Light.
When women’s stories of service, dedication and success are brought out into the light of day, new generations are inspired--knowing that an idea, dream or solution they have within them is possible to realize no matter their age, sex, ethnicity, skin color or any other barrier from the past. This is a new day, a new world.
Feel inspired as you read these women’s stories--to move your gifts and talents forward in the world.
And make sure to share these women’s lives with everyone--especially daughters, nieces, granddaughters and women friends, so they can picture themselves on the pages of an inclusive and honoring history.