Mary McLeod Bethune was a very influential African American woman during the times in the 1900s. I like to think that Mary had her own dream for women. Mary knew she was going to be known, and she also knew she was going to change the world one day. Mary was one of the first-born free members of her family. Mary also was the only one here to afford a formal education. Mary was one of the most important black educators civil and women’s rights leaders, and government officials of the twentieth century.
On July 10, 1875, Mary was born in Maysville, South Carolina. Which was soon after the emancipation proclamation which so-called ‘ended slavery’. Mary was married in 1898, but just a year after marriage, she had her very first child, which was 1899.
Mary had a lot of accomplishments in her long lifetime. At this time many African American children didn’t have opportunities to go to school. Mary was able to get a scholarship to further her education. Mary was one of the first students in her whole class to graduate from the 8th grade. Also, let’s not forget that in 1904 Mary open her school for negro girls called ‘Daytona Educational and Industrial School’. Mary had a passion to educate and empower young African women, so this is the reason why she opened her school. Mary’s school soon became co-educational and turned into Bethune-Cookman College in Florida. Mary believed that education was the key to racial advancement. Today her school is a well-known university still located in Florida, also her school is an HBCU, which is known as a historically black college/university.
In 1935, Mary was called by President Roosevelt to serve as a special advisor to the NYA, which is the National Youth Administration, and she soon became a director.
Mary was an advocate for African American women. Mary fought for women to have equal rights just as men. When the Second World War broke out, Mary told Roosevelt of the importance of African American women serving the country. Mary soon after worked with the women’s army corps to help recruit African American women. Also in 1935, Mary collected and preserved African American women’s history.
Mary knew that we women had more to do with our lives than just staying at home with kids and cook and cleaning. Mary made it possible for us women today. Not only did Mary open a lot of doors for us, but she made sure they remained open. Mary made it possible for women to dream about more than cooking and cleaning, but about being the first black to do this or this. Mary took one little or shall say many steps for women, but a huge leap for African American women. Mary will always be known for her life-long achievements.
One of Mary’s quotes that I saw while writing this essay will stick with me forever and really struck a chord with me: “Without faith nothing is possible, with faith nothing is impossible”. Mary always had faith in her fellow women and faith in education also. Mary died in 1955 of a heart attack at age of 79.