Mary McLeod Bethune

Today’s Dope Queen is Mary McLeod Bethune. Mary McLeod Bethune was a leading educator and Civil Rights Activist who believed education was the key to racial advancement. Born to former slaves in 1875, Bethune was the only child out the 17 in her family to attend school. She received a scholarship to Scotia Seminary, and upon graduation in 1893, attended Dwight Moody’s Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago.

Upon graduation Bethune returned to the south to become a teacher. After working as an educator for a decade Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls in Daytona, Florida. The school started out with just five students and grew to more the 250 in the next years. Bethune served as the schools president, even through a merger with Cookman Institute for Men. She left the college in 1942.

Bethune also served as the president of the Florida chapter of the NAACP, and in 1924 became the organizations national leader. She was an adviser on child welfare and health to Presidents Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. In 1935 Bethune became a special adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Minority Affairs. The same year she started the National Council of Negro Women to represent groups working on critical issues for African American Women. Bethune was also a close friend and adviser to the president and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Mary McLeod  Bethune’s efforts advanced the rights of African Americans and women. She devoted her life to social causes; in her Last Will and Testament she wrote : “I leave you a thirst for education. Knowledge is the prime need of the hour. If I have a legacy to leave my people, its my philosophy of living and serving.”.

Bethune was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1973. The former Headquarters of the NCNW is now the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic House. On July 10th 1974 the Mary-McLeod Bethune Memorial was erected in her honor in Lincoln Park. It was the first monument honoring an African American or woman to be installed in a public park in the District of Columbia.

SJ as Mary McLeod Bethune

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