Mary Mcleod Bethune
Mary Mcleod Bethune (1875-1955) was the 15th daughter of former slaves from South Carolina who became a civil rights leader, educator, and presidential advisor.
A lifelong advocate for education, Ms. Mcleod Bethune founded Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona, Fl., one of the 11 United Methodist Church related historically black colleges and universities. She served as president of the college from 1923-1942 and from 1946-1947, a rare role for a woman at the time.
Her work for the betterment of young black Americans included participation in women’s clubs, her leadership in which brought her national attention, which she used to campaign for the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, eventually becoming a member of President Roosevelt’s Black Cabinet and serving with the National Youth Administration. She also founded the National Council of Negro Women.
Ms. Mcleod Bethune was inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1973. She became a Methodist at the founding of her school. We proudly claim her as United Methodist Women foremother, and we work to continue her legacy of equal opportunities for all.
For more about Mary Mcleod Bethune, check out:
General Commission on Archive and History of The United Methodist Church
Women as Christian Evangelists: An Often Hidden History
Rackham Holt, Mary McLeod Bethune: A Biography (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1964).
Rosemary Radford Ruether and Rosemary Skinner Keller, eds., Women and Religion in America (New York: Harper & Row, 1981-1986).
Elaine M. Smith, “Mary McLeod Bethune.” In Notable American Women: The Modern Period: A Biographical Dictionary, vol.4, edited by Barbara Sicherman and Carol Hurd Green (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1980), 76-80.
Elliott Wright, Holy Company: Christian Heroes and Heroines (New York: Macmillan, 1980).