Bethune, Mary McLeod

Bethune, Mary McLeod

Bethune, Mary McLeod, 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).

orig. Mary Jane McLeod

(born July 10, 1875, Mayesville, S.C., U.S.—died May 18, 1955, Daytona Beach, Fla.) U.S. educator. Born to former slaves, she made her way through college and in 1904 founded a school that later became part of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla. She was president of the college in 1923–42 and 1946–47, also serving as a special adviser to Pres. Franklin Roosevelt. Prominent in African-American organizations, particularly women's groups, she directed the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration (1936–44).

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The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site preserves the house of Mary McLeod Bethune, located in Northwest Washington, D.C., at 1318 Vermont Avenue. National Park Service rangers offer tours of the home, and a video is shown about Bethune's life.

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