Celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune

The Urban League of Greater Atlanta is pleased to join the National Council of Negro Women in celebrating the life and legacy of Mary McLeod Bethune, known as one of the greatest educators in United States History.

Mary McLeod was born on July 10, 1875, in Maysville, South Carolina, to parents who had been slaves. She was the first and only one in her family of 17 children to attend school, and she made the most of it. Following her college graduation, she became a champion for civil rights and an advocate for equality in education.

Mary McLeod Bethune with girls from the Daytona Normal and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls, c. 1905.

Ms. McLeod married Albertus Bethune, a fellow teacher, in 1898. As Mary McLeod Bethune, she founded and led the Daytona (Florida) Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls – a school which merged with the Cookman Institute for Men to become Bethune-Cookman College in 1931.

Dr. Bethune also served as an advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. She worked in the Roosevelt administration and became a trusted advisor and friend to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She left Bethune Cookman in 1942 and moved to Washington, DC, where she spent her time working to advance social causes and civil rights.

Dr. Bethune died in Daytona, Florida, on May 18, 1955. The organization she founded remains a viable contributor to the advancement of African American and women’s rights. The National Council of Negro Women is celebrating its founder Mary McLeod Bethune throughout the month of July 2017.