- Bethune, Mary McLeod
- (1875-1955)Born one of 17 children to former slave parents in South Carolina, Mary McCleod Bethune attended a one-room schoolhouse before gaining a college education. She taught in Georgia and South Carolina and then established the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls in Florida in 1904, which became the Bethune-Cookman College in 1929. An active member and later vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Bethune was also a leader in the organization of black women’s clubs and president of the National Association of Colored Women from 1924-1928. From 1936 to 1950 she was president of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.Bethune took part in the National Commission for Child Welfare during the administration of Herbert Hoover, and in 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her director of Negro Affairs in the National Youth Administration (NYA). She was the first black woman to hold such a high-ranking federal position. Her role made her an important member of the Black Cabinet. She returned to teaching when the NYA came to an end in 1943 but advised the War Department on the appointment of black women army officers for the Women’s Army Corps. In 1945, Bethune was one of several black advisers to attend the United Nations meetings in San Francisco, California. Her work in race relations was recognized with awards from several African countries in addition to the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal and numerous honorary degrees.See also African americans.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.