When six years old, she went with her father to sell cotton that the family had picked. The disappointment on her father’s face told her that her father was not getting a fair price for the cotton. Mary was aware that like herself, her father could not read. Within that moment, she developed a thirst for education.
Mary became a teacher and a champion for civil rights. She served as a trustee of Bethune-Cookman College until her death in 1955 and received 11 honorary degrees for education and humanities.
In her Last Will and Testament, she wrote:“Our children must never lose their zeal for building a better world. They must not be discouraged from aspiring toward greatness, for they are to be the leaders of tomorrow.”
Her Life and Legacy
1898 - Establishes the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute (DNII) with $1.50.
1923 - DNII merges with Cookman Institute to become Bethune-Cookman College, still in existence today.
1923 – 1942 - President of Bethune-Cookman College
1935 - Founded the National Council of Negro Women and receives the NAACP’s highest honor, the Spingarn Award
1936 – 1944 - Director of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration
1937 – 1939 - Special Advisor to minority affairs to President Franklin D. Roosevelt
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