March 23: Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955)

Mary McLeod Bethune was an American educator, civil rights leader, and government official who devoted her life to advancing the cause of racial and gender equality. Born in South Carolina in 1875, Bethune was the 15th of 17 children and grew up in poverty. She attended college in Chicago and went on to found the National Council of Negro Women, an organization that fought for the rights of Black women. Bethune served as an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was instrumental in establishing the National Youth Administration, which provided education and employment opportunities for young people during the Great Depression. Bethune also founded a school for Black girls in Florida, which later became Bethune-Cookman University. Throughout her life, Bethune worked tirelessly to promote social justice and equal opportunities for Black Americans and women. Her legacy as a trailblazer in the fight for civil rights and educational opportunities continues to inspire generations of activists and educators.


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