Mary Bethune

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     Mary was born July 10, 1875 near Maysville, South Carolina. She was the 15th of 17 kids. Mary was the first child in her family to be born into freedom. Her family was very poor. Her family owned a field. Mary helped in the family in many ways. She had very powerful dreams.


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      Mary was planning to become a Missionary. She went to a college for black girls. She graduated from Scotia Seminary in North Carolina in 1894. She then went to the Moody Bible Institution. In 1927 she toured Europe. Later she became a teacher. She married Albert Bethune in 1898. Her son Albert was born in 1899. Mary’s husband did not like the idea of her teaching. She died on May 18, 1955.


How She Helped Americans Gain Rights  

      Mary started a school in 1904 for poor African-Americans girls. When she started the school all she had was $1.50. She only had five girls as her students. In 1923, it became a high school for girls and boys. In 1937, it became a junior college. Later, her school became a 4- year college named Bethune-Cookman College. The college finally became a university in 2007.

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Picture of Bethune-Cookman College in the year of 1905

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Current picture of Bethune-Cookman College

      Mary Bethune helped Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt. She worked with Franklin on an education plan. Eleanor asked for her help with human rights. She spoke about rights for all people. She worked with the national youth administration. She was in charge of finding jobs for young black people. Mary started the National Council of Negro Women. She was President of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.

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Mary working with Eleanor Roosevelt
Mary walking into the White House

Obstacles She Had To Overcome

     Mary’s family was poor, so she didn’t have much money. They could only afford to send her to school. She had to walk five miles to get to school every day. When she went away to college she had to leave her family. She missed her family very much.
     Because she was black her life was hard. Women at this time had a harder time getting people to listen to them. 

Interesting Facts

-Mary was born with her eyes open.
-She had $1.50 when she opened her school.
-Her grave says "Mother".
-In the year of 1985 the US Postal Service issued a stamp in Mary’s honor.
-She worked with Eleanor Roosevelt.
-She received an award from the NAACP.
-She opened a hospital on her school property.
-She had asthma.

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