Day — 496 — My Daily Thoughts Haibun Journey — Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary was the 15th of 17 children of slave parents’ but she was born free. She was determined to learn to read and ended up with the opportunity to attend school when she was seven. She was the only child her parents could spare to attend. After four years she graduated and returned to the fields but dreamed of continuing her education. An opportunity arose when a scholarship became available for one student who had high marks and Mary was chosen.

Although Mary’s dream was to be a missionary in Africa, but she was told coloreds were not qualified. She soon realized that America was in need of missionary work. She opened her first school with only 1.50, five students and her son.

People were often moved to give due to Bethune’s powerful speaking and passion for Black education. Rockefeller set up a scholarship and other well-known philanthropes helped fund Mary’s endeavors along the way.

Upset by the absence of healthcare for blacks in Daytona, Mary had a twenty-bed hospital built in campus. In 1919 the school became a junior college. Then In 1923 the school merged with Cookman College and became Bethune-Cookman College and Mary served until 1942 as the first black female college president.

Mary was a champion of civil and social rights. When voting rights for black were given in 1920 Mary helped organize a voter drive. This angered Klansmen, who threatened her with violence. She urged calmness and courage, leading the women in exercising their hard-won privilege.

Mary also founded the National Council of New Negro Women in 1935. She was a a main organizer of the Federal Council on Negr0 Affairs and served president Ro0sevelt as an advisor. In 1939 she became the Director of the Division of Negro Affairs for the National Youth