Tuesday, July 16, 2024


Black History Month; The Great Story of Mary McLeod Bethune…

February 13, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

(Akiit.com) Mary McLeod Bethune lived a heroic tale of overcoming the odds, and eventually opening her own institution for learning. Mary was born on July 10, 1875, and was raised in Mayesville, South Carolina. Her parents were Samuel and Patsy Bethune, and they both were former slaves who were freed by the Civil War. Mary was one of seventeenth children, and she was the youngest girl. As a young child, Mary had a huge desire to attend school, but instead, she had to work in the rice and cotton fields despite her desires.

Mary McLeod Bethune

Not all schools in her neighborhood accepted black children, but sooner or later, Mary’s desire to attend school would come true. A missionary school eventually opened in her neighborhood, and the school did indeed except black children. Every day after classes let out at the school, Mary would go home and teach her family members whatever she had learned for the day. Later, because of her hard-work and dedication, she would win a private scholarship to a missionary school in North Carolina.

While in North Carolina, Mary had the desire to be a missionary herself, but school officials offered her a teacher’s scholarship instead, to a school in Chicago. After being in Chicago for a short time, Mary would move to the state of Georgia, and begin teaching at a school in the state. After teaching at the school in Georgia for a little while, she transferred to a school in Daytona, Florida. Daytona is where Mary would decide to open her own college to educate poor black women.

Mary purchased the land for only a dollar and fifty cents, and the price was so cheap because no one else wanted the land. Mary borrowed used materials to construct the school, and asked several volunteers to help her build it. The school stood on a farm, and once it was finally finished being built, it was called the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute. There were five girls that attended the school at first, and they worked on the farm to help subsidize the cost for attending the institution.

In 1923, Mary’s school would unite with Cookman College, which was an all black-male institute in Florida, and by the two schools combining, the new name for the college was Bethune-Cookman College. Mary served as the president of the college until she decided to retire in 1942. Although, Mary retired as president, she remained a trustee of the school until her death in 1955. Overall, the life of Mary is a noteworthy tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve success.

Written By Omarr Lee

Email Address; omarrlee@aol.com


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