Placeholder Picture
Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875 - 1955) was a champion for education, civil rights, and women’s rights. She was an outstanding fund raiser and activist. She was born on July 10, 1875 in Mayesville South Carolina. In 1904, Bethune opened the Daytona Educational and Industrial School for Negro Girls.

As her national and international reputation grew, she attracted the friendship and financial support of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller, Industrialist Henry H. Kaiser, and millionaire James G. Gamble, of Procter and Gamble. In 1925, the Daytona school, then known as Bethune College, merged with Cookman College of Jacksonville Florida, to become Bethune-Cookman College. 

During her long and impressive career, Bethune served on the board of Directors for the Urban League, worked closely with the NAACP, served as an administrator for President Franklin Roosevelt’s Office of Minority Affairs (a branch of the National Youth Administration), and worked as a special assistant to the Secretary of War (1942) to help recruit black officer candidates in the Women’s Army Corps. She founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935, and was the organization’s president until 1949.