And she did, becoming the first person in her family — which included both parents and 16 siblings — to attend school, bringing the lessons back to teach others in the household.
Celebrating Black History Month- Mary McLeod Bethune
When she heard black people in the South were migrating to Florida to work on a big railroad project, she purchased a four-room cottage near Daytona Beach and, in 1904, opened the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Girls with five students. Two years later, the school expanded to 250 students.
It merged with the Cookman Institute for Men, just up the Florida coast in Jacksonville, in 1923 to become Bethune-Cookman College, one of the few colleges open to black students.
A staunch advocate for black people and especially black women, she started the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. Shortly thereafter, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her director of the National Youth Administration’s Division of Negro Affairs.
Celebrate Black History Month
Throughout February, we'll spotlight a different African-American pioneer in the daily Living section Monday through Thursday and Saturday, and in the Metro section on Fridays and Sundays. Go to myAJC.com/black-history-month for more subscriber exclusives on people, places and organizations that have changed the world, and to see videos on the African-American pioneer featured here each day.