Mary McLeod Bethune (1875 – 1955) was born a decade after the Civil War ended. Her parents, and many of her siblings had been slaves. This didn’t stop her from obtaining an education.
She learned everything she could. At the time, like many young women, she balanced art, music, and dance, with the available book learning of the time. This led to a life as an activist for women’s rights, and equality regardless of gender or ethnicity. Her political aspirations allowed her the opportunity to advise early American presidents.
Although she was not able to become a missionary to Africa, she did become a missionary to millions of young women in the US. She became a teacher at various colleges. In 1904, she began her own school aimed at educating the grandchildren of former slave children. The school had a long name, “The Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls,” and no budget. In fact, they gathered items around the town, and recycled them into desks, writing utensils, and anything else they needed.
The students, almost all female, worked hard to learn from the few books available. They sold baked goods to fund their teachers and necessary school supplies. Eventually, the school was too large to exist on bake sales. She searched for more funding grants. One, Proctor and Gamble became a major contributor.
In addition to teaching, she was also a writer and founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1932. At the time that she created it, she hoped to help more in her community become professionals in any field they chose. They hoped to achieve their goals toward peace, through peace, and political action, for those whom it suited to be able to do so.
Works Cited: All Accessed on 02/23/17