Mary McLeod Bethune | History of SC Slide Collection

Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), the daughter of former slaves, was born in Maysville. Believing that the only way to advance in the world was to be able to read, Bethune eventually became a leading educator of African-Americans. She began her own education at the Emma Wilson School, earned a scholarship to the Scotia Seminary in Concord, North Carolina, and in 1894 was accepted at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where she was the only African-American student. After graduation she returned to South Carolina where she taught at schools in Maysville, Sumter, and in Savannah, Georgia. In 1905, Bethune moved to Florida where she founded the Daytona Library and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls, beginning with $1.50 in cash, five pupils, and a rented cottage. Eventually, the school became an accredited high school and four-year college, and in 1923 Bethune merged it with the Cookman Institute for Boys to become the Bethune-Cookman College. Her educational work led her to make significant contributions in other areas as well. She helped found the National Council of Negro Women, and served as its president until the 1940s. An advisor to four presidents, she was invited by Calvin Coolidge to participate in child welfare conferences, and appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt as Director of Negro Affairs in the National Youth Administration. Roosevelt also consulted her over the United Nations charter. This photograph is undated, but was taken late in Bethune's life at a ceremony at the Shanklin School in Beaufort County.

Courtesy of the South Caroliniana Library.

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