Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune
Who is Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune?
Born on a farm near Mayesville, South Carolina in 1875, Mary McLeod Bethune, the 15th child of former slaves, rose from humble beginnings to become a world-renowned educator, civil and human rights leader, champion for women and young people, and an advisor to five U.S. presidents.
Education was the first step in her remarkable journey. The young Mary McLeod worked in the fields alongside her parents and siblings, until she enrolled at the age of 10 in the one-room Trinity Presbyterian Mission School. There, she learned to read, and, as she later noted, the whole world opened to me. She went on to study at Scotia Seminary in North Carolina and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago with the goal of becoming a missionary. When no missionary openings were available, she became a teacher, first at the Haines Institute in Augusta, Georgia and then at the Kendall Institute in Sumpter, South Carolina, where she met and married Albertus Bethune. The dream of opening her own school took Mary McLeod Bethune to Florida first to Palatka and then to Daytona Beach, where she started the school that would become Bethune-Cookman University.
As she worked to build the school that she founded, she also became a national leader on issues related to civil rights, education, women and young people. As president of the State Federation of Colored Women's Clubs, she organized the group to fight against school segregation and inadequate healthcare for black children. She later served as president of the prestigious National Association of Colored Women's Clubs and founded the National Council of Negro Women. She was appointed to numerous national commissions including the Coolidge Administration's Child Welfare Conference, the Hoover Administration's National Commission on Child Welfare and Commission on Home Building and Home Ownership. She eventually became an advisor on minority affairs in the Roosevelt Administration, organizing two national conferences on the problem of black Americans.
While she gave counsel to presidents and made connections with America's elite, Mary McLeod Bethune was readily accessible to average men and women and the college students that she mothered and mentored. Her access to people of power and privilege was never something she used to benefit herself. It was always an opportunity to gain access for those shut out of opportunities in our society. She enlisted leaders of government and industry to support her vision and dreams for her school in Daytona Beach, for social justice and positive change for all.
Wherever Dr. Bethune saw a need, she found a way to meet that need and move society closer to her vision. When a black student was turned away from the hospital in Daytona Beach, she opened a hospital to serve the black community. When the nation mobilized resources for the first and second World Wars, she pressed for the integration of the American Red Cross and Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. She led voter registration drives and anti-lynching campaigns.
Through it all Dr. Bethune relied on faith and prayer for guidance and inspiration, saying, Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.
Mary McLeod Bethune's vision lives on today at the school that she founded which continues to sustain her legacy of faith, scholarship and service.
REAL WORLD ISSUE AT BETHUNE COOKMAN COLLEGE. WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Here is Dr. McLeod's legacy...
I LEAVE YOU LOVE. Love builds. It is positive and helpful. It is more beneficial than hate. Injuries quickly forgotten quickly pass away. Personally and racially, our enemies must be forgiven. Our aim must be to create a world of fellowship and justice where no man's skin, color or religion, is held against him. "Love thy neighbor" is a precept which could transform the world if it were universally practiced. It connotes brotherhood and, to me, brotherhood of man is the noblest concept in all human relations. Loving your neighbor means being interracial, inter-religious and international.
I LEAVE YOU HOPE. Growth will be great in the years to come. Yesterday, our ancestors endured the degradation of slavery, yet they retained their dignity. Today, we direct our economic and political strength toward winning a more abundant and secure life. Tomorrow, a new Negro, unhindered by race taboos and shackles, will benefit from more than 330 years of ceaseless striving and struggle. Theirs will be a better world. This I believe with all my heart.
I LEAVE YOU THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING CONFIDENCE IN ONE ANOTHER. As long as (we) are hemmed into racial blocks by prejudice and pressure, it will be necessary for them to band together for economic betterment. Negro banks, insurance companies and other businesses are examples of successful, racial economic enterprises. These institutions were made possible by vision and mutual aid. Confidence was vital in getting them started and keeping them going. (We) have got to demonstrate still more confidence in each other in business. This kind of confidence will aid the economic rise of the race by bringing together the pennies and dollars of our people and ploughing them into useful channels. Economic separatism cannot be tolerated in this enlightened age, and it is not practicable. We must spread out as far and as fast as we can, but we must also help each other as we go.
I LEAVE YOU A THIRST FOR EDUCATION. Knowledge is the prime need of the hour. More and more, (we) are taking full advantage of hard-won opportunities for learning, and the educational level of the Negro population is at its highest point in history. We are making greater use of the privileges inherent in living in a democracy. If we continue in this trend, we will be able to rear increasing numbers of strong, purposeful men and women, equipped with vision, mental clarity, health and education.
I LEAVE YOU RESPECT FOR THE USES OF POWER. We live in a world which respects power above all things. Power, intelligently directed, can lead to more freedom. Unwisely directed, it can be a dreadful, destructive force. During my lifetime I have seen our power grow enormously. It has always been my first concern that this power should be placed on the side of human justice.
I LEAVE YOU FAITH. Faith is the first factor in a life devoted to service. Without faith, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible. Faith in God is the greatest power, but great, too, is faith in oneself. In 50 years the faith of the American Negro in himself has grown immensely and is still increasing. The measure of our progress as a race is in precise relation to the depth of the faith in our people held by our leaders. Frederick Douglass, genius though he was, was spurred by a deep conviction that his people would heed his counsel and follow him to freedom. Our greatest Negro figures have been imbued with faith. Our forefathers struggled for liberty in conditions far more onerous than those we now face, but they never lost the faith. Their perseverance paid rich dividends. We must never forget their sufferings and their sacrifices, for they were the foundations of the progress of our people.
I LEAVE YOU RACIAL DIGNITY. I want (all) to maintain their human dignity at all costs. We must recognize that we are the custodians as well as the heirs of a great civilization. We have given something to the world as a race and for this we are proud and fully conscious of our place in the total picture of mankind's development. We must learn also to share and mix with all men. We must make and effort to be less race conscious and more conscious of individual and human values. I have never been sensitive about my complexion. My color has never destroyed my self-respect nor has it ever caused me to conduct myself in such a manner as to merit the disrespect of any person. I have not let my color handicap me. Despite many crushing burdens and handicaps, I have risen from the cotton fields of South Carolina to found a college, administer it during its years of growth, become a public servant in the government of our country and a leader of women. I would not exchange my color for all the wealth in the world, for had I been born white I might not have been able to do all that I have done or yet hope to do.
I LEAVE YOU A DESIRE TO LIVE HARMONIOUSLY WITH YOUR FELLOW MEN. The problem of color is worldwide. It is found in Africa and Asia, Europe and South America. I appeal to Americans -- North, South, East and West -- to recognize their common problems and unite to solve them.
I LEAVE YOU FINALLY A RESPONSIBILITY TO OUR YOUNG PEOPLE. The world around us really belongs to youth for youth will take over its future management. Our children must never lose their zeal for building a better world. They must not be discouraged from aspiring toward greatness, for they are to be the leaders of tomorrow. Nor must they forget that the masses of our people are still underprivileged, ill-housed, impoverished and victimized by discrimination. We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.
Faith, courage, brotherhood, dignity, ambition, responsibility -- these are needed today as never before. We must cultivate them and use them as tools for our task of completing the establishment of equality for (all). We must sharpen these tools in the struggle that faces us and find new ways of using them. The Freedom Gates are half-ajar. We must pry them fully open.
If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of living and serving. As I face tomorrow, I am content, for I think I have spent my life well. I pray now that my philosophy may be helpful to those who share my vision of a world of Peace, Progress, Brotherhood, and Love.
MARY'S LIFE PT 1
MARY'S LIFE PT 2
MARY'S LIFE PT 3
DESTINATION FREEDOM - HEAR DR. BETHUNE'S VOICE
Dr. Mary's Voice @ min:32sec