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Mary Mcleod Bethune

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Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune was a motherly figure to her people that consumed the majority of her lifespan cultivating and toiling to certify that African-Americans received the humanoid entitlements and basic rights they deserve. She was an activist, philanthropist, guide, and an educationalist that devoted many decades to battle for civil rights and enhance the African-American community. She was a firm believer that the key to battle misfortunes and hardships that were enfeebling African-Americans was tutelage and education. Bethune undertook and triumphed voluminous superb responsibilities in order to make a significant, encouraging influence on humanity and elevate her community.
Bethune was conceived July 10, 1875 in Mayesville, South Carolina to Samuel and Patsy McLeod, who were former slaves that attained land once they were unchained from enslavement. Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was the fifteenth of seventeen children and grew up in a home chock-full of destitution and paucity. Since she was a child, she toiled on the cotton field and assisted her mother with doing laundry for white folk. The poverty that her family endured prevented her from pursuing an education. Bethune went through an occurrence that stimulated her to break the cycle in her community and befit into a cultivated African-American woman. While distributing the laundry she washed with her mother to a white client, Bethune picked up a book and began to look at it. A white child became infuriated by this and told her to stop looking at the book since African-Americans were illiterate and that she couldn’t even read. (Bolden, 1998, p.94). The words were tremendously spiteful but it made Mary determined to pursue an education, defeat repression, and prove the whites wrong.
Bethune began to attend a local missionary school that was just opened and became the first in her family to receive an education. She was so brilliant that she was bestowed a scholarship to Scotia Seminary in Concord, North Carolina. At Scotia, Mary McLeod pursued an education along with white folk and it was the first time she was educated along with them. As said by Wright (1999, p.9) Mary had this to say concerning her schooling at Scotia:
" It broadened my horizon and gave me my first intellectual contacts with white people, for the school had a mixed faculty. The white teachers taught that the color of a person's skin has nothing to do with his brains, and that color, caste, or class distinctions are an evil thing." After Bethune culminated from Scotia, she was passionate about becoming a missionary in Africa but she gave up on that vision to be a teacher after she was told that African-American missionaries were inessential, which really saddened her. She began her teaching career by instructing students at Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta, Georgia. She wanted to instill the inspiration to be educated into these lost children in this destitute neighborhood. Bethune voyaged to dilapidated African-American communities in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina and educated adolescents there. She founded the Mission Sabbath School for derelict youngsters that wanted an education. (Hine, Brown, Terborg-Penn, 1992, p.114). Bethune met Albertus Bethune while she was teaching in South Carolina and they wed in 1898. They relocated to Savannah, Georgia and she bore him a son named Albert McLeod Bethine. Shortly after, they moved to Florida, which was where she established the mission school. Their marriage was calamitous and unhappy since Bethune’s main focus was cultivating her people and ensuring that they acquired the education they needed. Her husband left them, but he never divorced her. When Bethune relocated to Florida to establish an educational facility, she was stupefied by the circumstances and environment of the African-Americans there. She evoked, "Hundreds of Negroes had gathered in Florida for construction work. I found their dense ignorance and meager educational facilities, racial prejudice of the most violent type - crime and violence" (Wright, 1999, p.7) She was determined to transmute Daytona and convalesce the conditions of the African Americans, but she couldn’t do it all alone. She instituted the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904 and struggled at the beginning. There were an insufficient amount of pupils, school materials, and other basic necessities such as benches. Fortunately, the prominent heads of the African-American communal and affluent white people stepped in and supported her in outshining the school. Bethune prearranged fundraisers to raise coinage for the school since they were so short on funds. She formed a choir that performed in various places and became acquainted with influential entrepreneurs such as John D. Rockefeller and Henry J. Kaiser. They were so impressed by her that they financed the fundraisers, schools, and created a board of representatives for Bethune Wright, 1999, p.8). Bethune always believed that the best way to elevate African-Americans was for them to gain access to knowledge and acquire an education. When the Daytona Institute amalgamated with the Cookman Institute in 1931, it became a coeducational facility that was renamed Bethune-Cookman College (Smith, 2001, p.68). (BCC). The amalgamation came during a challenging time, the early stages of The Great Depression. Bethune repudiated to let that be a justification for negligent management of the college and did whatever she could to ensure that the school was ran well. Remunerations were reduced, certain classes were dropped, and societal and physical activities were withdrawn (Hine et.al, 1992, p.116). These obligatory provisions were made in order for African-Americans to obtain the preeminent higher education they merited. By 1942, Bethune-Cookman College transmuted into a four-year college and was no longer the small school for derelict students. Bethune wasn’t solely dedicated to educating the African-Americans. She was also focused on refining their lives in other areas such as women’s rights and empowering the female race. She operated as premier of the Florida Federation of Colored Women, which was a challenge because of rehabilitative amenities for felonious African American girls, the suffrage movement, and World War I. African-American female juvenile delinquents lacked their own services so they were retained in penal institutions with grown-up criminals. The Florida Federation of Colored Women developed a facility for misguided African American girls since they couldn’t join the Industrial School in Ocala, which was for white female criminals. This organization sponsored the facility along with crusaders since the state of Florida didn’t fund the place until years later. It was extremely unfair because the state financed the Industrial School for white felonious lawbreakers since 1913 (Hine et.al, 1992, 118). Bethune encouraged black women to vote when the 19th Amendment was ratified and she listed many women (Hine et.al, 1992, p.118). When World War I erupted, she aided the Red Cross and encouraged conserving nutriment and cans.
Bethune created the National Council of Negro Women in 1935, which was a prevalent, gigantic coalition of African American women’s associations. The council propositioned to accumulate, decipher, and distribute material regarding the undertakings of African-American women. Their fundamental objective was to advance proficient and intrepid direction among African-American women and influence their incorporation into their societies. The Aframerican Woman's Journal was formed by the leaders of NCNW in 1940 in order for their goalmouths to be accomplished. It was committed to triumphing the ratification of an Anti-lynching Bill, the prohibition of the poll tax, the enlargement of a public health program, a cease in bigotry in the defense plants and military, and installing the doctrine of African-American history in public school throughout the nation.
Mary McLeod Bethune passed away on May 18,1955, in Daytona Beach, Florida. She was a fundamental character in the African-American community, especially for African-American women. Her life and work fashioned a foremost tie attaching the societal development struggles of post-Reconstruction African-American women to the beginning stages of the Civil Rights movement after World War II. She was a prominent, pivotal leader to her people and left behind a legacy. She amended the conditions of African-Americans by pushing them to acquire an education and persuaded women to fight for their rights. She went from the little girl doing laundry to an eminent figure in African-American history.

Works Cited Page

1. Bolden, Tonya. (1998). And Not Afraid To Dare: The Stories of Ten African-American Woman (pp.91-101). Scholastic Paperbacks

2. Hine, Darlene Clark, Brown, Elsa Barkley & Terborg-Penn, Rosalyn (1992). Black Women in America (pp.113-128).Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press
3. Wright, R Brian (1999, April 27). The Idealistic Realist: Mary McLeod Bethune, The National Council of Negro Women and The National Youth Administration (pp.1-12).Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia

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