July 10th, 1875 was the day that miss Mary Mcleod Bethune was born in Mayesville South Carolina to her mother and father, who previously themselves were slaves. Mary, later in life, would come to be recognized as “one of the most prominent African American women of the first half of the twentieth century– and one of the most powerful. ”. After serving as an educator,an activist, and an advisor for a line of presidents Mary can be credited as a major figure in the road to equal opportunity in the field of education.
As a child in a family of nineteen, seventeen children and their two parents, it wasn’t likely that she would have known anything else because there were no opportunities for any of her siblings to go to school, all they knew was working. Mary grew up working in the cotton fields alongside her family and remained there until a missionary opened a segregated school, named Trinity Presbyterian Mission School, close to where she lived that was for AfricanAmerican girls.
She was the only one of her siblings able to attend the school because of the family’s financial status so she would relay what she learned onto her siblings and her parents. The establishment of this school was the first step of many that lead to stronger and more developed educational rights for African-American children and women in the United States of America. Mary was able to extend her education to the Scotia Seminary in Concord after receiving a scholarship, then onto North Carolina and then went on to Dwight Moody’s Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago in pursuit of becoming a missionary.
In the end of it all she never did go on to do a mission like she had once planned. Once she had graduated from each institute Mary went on back to the South to become a teacher carrying the belief that “education provided the key to racial advancement. ” which later led to the establishment of the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls in Daytona, Florida, in 1904 by Mary McLeod Bethune. In the 1920’s the school was merged with the Cookman Institute for Men to become the Bethune-Cookman college.
Without the efforts made by this one particular women one may question what the education system would be like today hadn’t she put in the work to make education available to all. Not only did the establishment of the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls help to further achieving Mary’s’ goal of “improving the lives of African-Americans through education and political and economic empowerment” but so did her role as president of the National Association of Coloured Women’s Club when she was elected in 1924 and also when she founded and held the presidency of the National Council of Negro Women in 1935.
During her time spent as an activist for African-American rights she fought for a variety of things su Ich as the end of lynching, African-American civil rights, equal pay, and the poll tax. Not only was she involved in clubs and groups that would advocate negro women’s rights but she also got involved politically with her later position as the black administrator/ advisor in the Roosevelt administration where she was referred to upon matters such as “minority affairs and interracial relations”. When Mary wasn’t involved with the education or ernment environments she was out protesting for AfricanAmerican rights, for example, by picketing businesses that would refuse to hire African-American workers and was a speaker at many “conferences devoted to racial issues. “. As one can observe from only a few examples of what Mary did with her life one could say that she was persistent and active in advocating for better and equal opportunity for AfricanAmerican children and women.
The many Ideas that Mary McLeod Bethune held and all of the goals that she fought for and achieved in her life time have layed a significant part in the way that education is structured today. The establishment and success of the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls opened a door for many that wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity if it hadn’t been for her persistence, ambitious nature, and strength. Mary, shown through her efforts, held an ideology that “education provided the key to racial advancement. ”. When we look at the success of the school and how it had only started with six students and blossomed from nothing into a flourishing program it is evident how much of an impact she had on many lives.
When the school first opened they had nothing, “crates were used for desks, charcoal took the place of pencils, and ink came from crushed berries. “, a lack of resources did not stop them from pushing for what they wanted and believed was important. The effort put in by Mary McLeod Bethune sparked a movement, she helped many African-American students achieve what would’ve been thought of as impossible otherwise. This helped African-American families social standings to grow higher which posed as a domino effect for equal rights between the races in many environments by ensuring that education was a tool accessible to many more.