MARY McLEOD BETHUNE (1875-1955) was the daughter of former slaves and became one of the most important black educators, civil and women’s rights leaders and government officials of the twentieth century. The college she founded set educational standards for today’s black colleges. Her role as an advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave African Americans an advocate in government.
Offering a wonderful, inscribed glossy photograph, 7 1/4 x 9 1/4, of Bethune standing before the U.S. capitol in Washington, DC. Inscribed at upper-left corner, “To Richard, with love, Mary McLeod Bethune ‘54’ – the year before she died
Bethune was born in Maysville, SC, the last of 17 children of Samuel and Patsy McLeod. After the Civil War, her mother worked for her former owner until she could buy the land on which the family grew cotton. By age nine, Bethune could pick 250 Pounds of cotton a day. She graduated from Scotia Seminary, a boarding school in North Carolina, in 1894. She also attended Dwight Moody’s Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago, IL. No church would sponsor her so she became an educator. She and her husband, a fellow teacher, married in 1899 and had a son. The Bethunes moved to Palatka, FL, where married worked at the Presbyterian Church and also sold insurance. Her marriage ended in 1904. Determined to support her son, she opened a boarding school, the Daytona Beach Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. Her school became a college and merged with the all-male Cookman Institute to form Bethune-Cookman College in 1929.
Bethune was a champion of racial and gender equality and founded many organizations and led voter registration drives after women gained the vote in 1920, risking racist attacks. In 1924, she was elected president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and in 1935, she became the founding president of the National Council of Negro Women. A friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, she became the highest ranking African American woman in government when President Roosevelt named her director of Negro Affairs of the National youth Administration. She was also a president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons. Appointed by President Truman, Bethune was the only woman of color at the founding conference of the United Nations in 1945. Bethune was a business woman who co-owned a Daytona, FL resort and co-founded the Central Life Insurance Company of Tampa. Bethune’s life was celebrated with a memorial statue in Washington, DC, in 1974, and a postage stamp in 1985.
The photograph is in good condition with expected age wear and several creases.
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