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Bethune, Mary Jane (nee McLeod)

Born: 1875 AD
Died: 1955 AD, at 79 years of age.

Nationality: American
Categories: Activists, Educators


1875 - Born on the 10th of July in Mayesville, South Carolina. She was an educator.

1894 - Graduated in Scotia Seminary near Concord, North Carolina.

1898 - Married Albertus Bethune, a former schoolteacher turned haberdasher.

1904 - A U.S. educator born to former slaves, she made her way through college and founded a school that later became part of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida.

1923 - She was the president of the college.

1924 - Became the eighth president of the prestigious National Association of Colored Women's clubs (NACW). Among her accomplishments, during her first four years as president, was the acquisition of a national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

1928 - She attended the Child Welfare Conference called by President Calvin Coolidge.

1932 - She worked for the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and attempted to get him to support a proposed law against lynching.

1933 - She was appointed to the Planning Committee established by the Federal Office of Education of Negroes.

1936 - Prominent in African-American organizations, particularly women's groups, she directed the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration.

1937 - With the approval of Aubrey Williams, NYA executive director, Bethune issued calls for national conferences on the problem of black Americans.

1944 - She became the national commander of the Women's Army for National Defense, an all-black women's organization.

1949 - She was invited by President Dumarsais Estime of the Republic of Haiti to celebrate the Haitian Exposition and became the first woman to be given the Medal of Honor and Merit, Haiti's highest award.

1955 - She died of heart attack on the 18th of May in Daytona Beach, Florida.


Page last updated: 12:16pm, 07th Aug '07

  • "Faith is the first factor in a life devoted to service. Without it, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible."
  • "The drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth."