Mary Mcleod Bethune (July 10, 1875 – May 18, 1955) was a Black teacher and humanitarian. However, our ancestral auntie is best known for starting a private school for black students in Daytona Beach. (HEYYYYYY Bethune-Cookman!!! We see y’all!! HBCU’S rock.)
She is also recognized for co-founding UNCF on April 25, 1944 with William Trent and Fredrick Patterson.
Mrs. Bethune was instrumental in bringing in donations for the school.
Using her intellect and charm, Bethune was able to secure donations of both finances and time from other educators. These efforts are what allowed the school she started to develop into the college we all know today.
Mary McLeod Bethune was later appointed to a role as advisor to President Roosevelt as a member of his ‘black cabinet’. This is how she became known as “The First Lady of The Struggle” because of her efforts to gain rights and laws to benefit and uplift the Black community.
You may hear about Mary Mcleod Bethune during Black History Month for a brief second.
You might learn about her for a moment in history class.
You will notice that no one will pay the appropriate amount of respect to the obstacles this powerhouse of a woman would have had to face–and overcome–to be as powerful as she was!
White women were fighting for their rights but, theirs alone (white feminism is a whole conversation we cannot unpack here but we should do that together soon.). Bethune was fighting for women’s rights, civil rights for the Black Americans AND fighting for higher education for Black people!
Her accomplishments are that much greater for we know the struggle. We know the adversity Black women face today. We know as Black women, the adversity: the callous disrespect; dismissal of her ideas and education; and the slammed door after door in her face. Yet, she became an icon for Black women.
She is the ancestor of the Black Girl Magic movement and we must give our Ancestral Auntie, this Black queen her due.
It is Women’s History Month and we will pay homage and give respect to the Black women that paved the way for us to be great.
Thank you for educating us, Mrs. Bethune.
Thank you for seeing greatness where others saw mammies and workhorses.
Thank you for forcing the world to start to see us as capable, strong, talented and TEACHABLE Black people.
[images from orlandoweekly, en.wikipedia.com