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Mary McLeod’s Influence and Contribution to Education

Info: 1112 words (4 pages) Essay
Published: 3rd Nov 2020 in Education

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Mary Jane McLeod was born on July 10th, 1875 to parents of former slaves Patsy and Samuel McLeod (A&E Television Networks, 2020). Likewise, with numerous African American children having the disappointment of being naturally introduced into slavery, Mary and her family persevered through cool, excruciating labor. Gracefully and fortunately, Mary was allowed a chance to go to a religious school in Sumter County. Mary will later turn into the recipient of an academic grant to a female religious school called Scotia Seminary and would graduate in 1883 and enroll in the Dwight Moody’s Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago, Illinois (A&E Television Networks, 2020).

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Beginning with 1897 and advancing a few years later, she would move to the south and teach at Haines Normal and Industrial Institute and then at Kindell Institute (Education Encyclopedia, n.d.). Mary was a strong advocate and believer that an educated black person was the gateway past segregation. As a result of her forward and intuitive thinking, Mary would move to Daytona Beach to establish the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute, a school for African American girls in 1904. The location was a tiny cabin by railroad tracks, and the school very little money (Florida Historic Places, n.d.). Advancing two decades later, Mary’s school amalgamated with a male-orientated Cookman Institute to form Bethune-Cookman College (Lane, 2017).

Mary Bethune Got entangled in different clubs and affiliations subsidiary with the essential, consistent help of African American females during her residency in Florida. Having in effect through the state level, she attempted to start projects to stop isolated instruction, to enhance healthcare for African American children and to help females in utilizing the voting forms to invest equity. Mary rose above to the national stage when she was elected as President of the National Association of Colored Women in 1924 (Podesta, 2020). This affiliation empowered her to align a network of contacts. Mary’s earlier administration encounters have permitted her to turn into a valuable administrator of daily operations. After her increase in popularity, she could see the need for an umbrella association who sponsored mental anguish to engage ladies to become pioneers of social change. As a result, Mary built the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. and served as the founder and president for fifteen years (Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, 2019).

As president of a school, Mary picked up conspicuousness which brought her national and praise along with favorable considerations from presidents of the United States. Her most striking commitment occurred in 1935 when president Franklin D. Roosevelt summoned her to Washington. He had requested that Mary fill in as a special advisor to the National Youth Administration. He was so intrigued with her work the next year, so he made her Director of Negro Affairs (A&E Television Networks, 2020). At that history-making moment, she turned into the first African American lady to have full authoritative control over a government office. Additionally, by making the Federal Council on Negro Affairs, also called “Black Cabinet”, she and other chamber individuals such as Charles H. Houston, Walter White, and Phillip Randolph attempted to demolish barriers during the New Deal. During World War II, she continued battling for African Americans, aiding the incorporation of African American ladies in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corporation and Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service (Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, 2019). Bethune’s position and influence granted her a direct entrance to the president of the United States. Not only that, but she also had access to a viewership of millions on an NBC radio show called “America’s Town Meeting of the Air.” She was asked about American democracy and its meaning. She responds:

Democracy is for me, and for 12,000,000 black Americans, a goal towards which our nation is merging. It is a dream in an ideal in whose ultimate realization we have a deep and abiding faith. For me it is based on Christianity, in which we confidently and trust our destiny as a people. Under God's guidance in this great democracy, we are rising out of the darkness of slavery into the light of freedom. Here my race has been afforded [the] opportunity to advance from a people 80 percent illiterate to a people 80 percent literate; from abject poverty to the ownership and operation of a million farms and 750,000 homes; from total disfranchisement to participation in the government; from the status of chattels to recognize contributors to the American culture (American Public Media, n.d.).

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Mary eventually returned to Florida after retiring, and she would die on May 18th, 1955 due to a heart attack. She will always be remembered with her demonstrative progress to propel the privileges of African Americans and women. Prior to her death, she wrote “My Last Will and Testament,” which served as a reflection writing of her own life and heritage, including her personal struggles. In addition, she wrote, “I leave you a thirst for education. Knowledge is the prime need of the hour. If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of living and serving” (A&E Television Networks, 2020).


  • A&E Television Networks. (2020, January 15). Mary McLeod Bethune. Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://www.biography.com/activist/mary-mcleod-bethune
  • American Public Media. (n.d.). Mary McLeod Bethune. Retrieved February 27, 2020, from http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/mmbethune.html
  • Education Encyclopedia. (n.d.). Mary Mcleod Bethune (1875–1955). Retrieved February 27, 2020, from https://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1787/Bethune-Mary-Mcleod-1875-1955.html
  • Florida Historic Places. (n.d.). Retrieved February 29, 2020, from https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/geo-flor/31.htm
  • Lane, D. (2017, March 3). Mary McLeod Bethune: The Health Advocate You Never Knew. Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://blackdoctor.org/461363/mary-mcleod-bethune-educator/
  • Mary McLeod Bethune Council House. (2019, September 21). Mary McLeod Bethune. Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://www.nps.gov/mamc/learn/historyculture/mary-mcleod-bethune.htm
  • Podesta, J. (2020, February 5). Mary McLeod Bethune. Retrieved February 26, 2020, from https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/social-sciences-and-law/education-biographies/mary-mcleod-bethune


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