She became part of Roosevelt's "Black Cabinet": Who is Mary McLeod Bethune?

Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator, civil rights and women's rights activist, college president, and advisor to U.S. presidents. She is the first black person whose statue is exhibited in the National Statuary Hall of the US Capitol.

By Jane Dickens Published on 7 Haziran 2024 : 12:31.
She became part of Roosevelt's "Black Cabinet": Who is Mary McLeod Bethune?

Bethune, an educator and advisor to presidents, was born in Mayesville, South Carolina, a decade after the Civil War ended. Her parents were enslaved. She attended school in Mayesville, which was unusual for Black Americans during the Reconstruction era.

This opportunity set her on her path as an educator. Bethune worked as a teacher in Georgia and South Carolina. After marrying Albertus Bethune in 1898, she opened a missionary school in Palatka, Florida. Over the next two decades, she opened a school for girls in Daytona Beach, Florida, and helped found Bethune-Cookman College. She became the first Black female college president, serving there from 1931 to 1947.

Mary Jane McLeod Bethune (July 10, 1875 – May 18, 1955) was an American educator, philanthropist, humanitarian, womanist, and civil rights activist. Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935, established the organization's flagship journal Aframerican Women's Journal, and presided as president or leader for a myriad of African American women's organizations including the National Association for Colored Women and the National Youth Administration's Negro Division.

During her life, Bethune served as vice president of both the NAACP and the National Urban League, in addition to advising Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover on education and youth employment.

A friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Bethune came to the attention of President Franklin D Roosevelt, who asked her to serve as a special advisor to the National Youth Administration. From there, Bethune became part of Roosevelt's "Black Cabinet," where she worked to create more opportunities for Black Americans under the New Deal.

During World War II, she worked with President Harry S Truman to recruit Black women into the Women's Auxiliary Corps. After retiring in the late 1940s, Bethune died on May 18, 1955.

When Bethune's statue is unveiled in July 2022, she becomes the first Black American in the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol. Sculptor Nilda Comas is also the first Hispanic artist to have work in the collection of the National Statuary Hall at the Capitol.

The statue depicts Bethune in an academic cap and gown, holding a black rose made of Spanish marble in her left hand and a cane belonging to Roosevelt in her right.