Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune was born in South Carolina in 1875. She attended Scotia Seminary and Moody Bible Institute. In 1898, she married Albertus Bethune, a former school teacher.

In 1904, she founded the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls in Daytona Beach, Florida. For nearly forty years, she nurtured the school, which eventually became Bethune-Cookman College. During this time, Bethune also served as president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACW). In 1935, Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women in New York City.

Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she was appointed head of the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration, and served as an advisor to Roosevelt on minority issues. From this position, she worked to end racial discrimination and improve the status of African Americans.

During WWII, Bethune worked to have black women commissioned as officers in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC, later the Women’s Army Corps, WAC). After the war, she participated in the founding of the United Nations. She died in 1955 at the age of 80.


Mary McLeod Bethune, Library of Congress, LC-USW3-013518-C


Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune addresses an audience at Bethune-Cookman, 1943
Library of Congress, LC-USW3-014892-C