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Mary Mcleod Bethune
By Kathleen Redman
  

1     Mary Jane McLeod was born to former slaves in Mayesville, South Carolina, on July 10, 1875. She was the fifteenth of seventeen children.

Once when she was quite young, Mary picked up a book while she was playing with a white child whose parents employed Mary's mother. The white child grabbed the book and told Mary she couldn't have it because African-Americans couldn't read. This may help explain Mary's lifelong devotion to education.

Her parents wanted her to have an education and encouraged Mary to take advantage of opportunities that were presented to her. When she was about 11, a school was opened for African-American children. It was four miles from her home, but Mary walked to and from the school each day. A few years later she was chosen for a scholarship at Scotia Seminary in North Carolina. From there she received a scholarship to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where she was the only African-American student in the school.

After she graduated, she taught in Chicago where she visited prisoners in jail, served lunches to the homeless, and worked with the residents of the slums. Turned down when she applied to go to Africa as a missionary, she returned to the South. She married Albertus Bethune and began to teach school.

In Daytona, Florida, in 1904 she scraped together $1.50 to begin a school with just five students. She called it the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. She charged her students 50 cents a week tuition, but would not turn down any girl who wanted to learn. She furnished her school with chairs made out of boxes and desks made out of packing crates. A gifted teacher and leader, Mrs. Bethune ran her school with a combination of unshakable faith and remarkable organizational skills. Within three years the school was able to move to a permanent home. She was a brilliant speaker and fundraiser. She expanded the school to a high school, then a junior college, .....
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