1875 - 1955
By: Mary Stein | Date Added: 2017-07-13T20:06:25Z
Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was an American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian and civil rights activist best known for starting a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida. It later merged with a private institute for African-American boys, and was known as the Bethune-Cookman School. Bethune maintained high standards and promoted the school with tourists and donors, to demonstrate what educated African Americans could do. She was president of the college from 1923 to 1942, and 1946 to 1947. She was one of the few women in the world to serve as a college president at that time. Bethune served as the Florida chapter president of the National Association for Colored Women from 1917 to 1925 After working on the presidential campaign for Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, she was invited as a member of his Black Cabinet. She advised him on concerns of black people and helped share Roosevelt's message and achievements with blacks, who had historically been Republican voters since the Civil War. In 1935 Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women in New York City. Bethune was also appointed to position of Director of the Division of Negro Affairs in 1938, and as such, became the first African-American female division head. Her home in Daytona Beach is a National Historic Landmark, her house in Washington, D.C. is a National Historic Site. There is also a memorial sculpture of her in Lincoln Park In Washington DC.
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