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Mary McLeod Bethune 18751955 was one of the most powerful African Americans in the United States for more than a quarter of a century She earned national prominence as an organizer administrator educator fund-raiser advocate spokesperson orator and activist In addition to serving as president of Bethune-Cookman College Bethune was president of the National Association of Colored Womens Clubs and founder and president of the National Council of Negro Women In Washington as a member of the National Youth Administration and founder of the Federal Council on Negro Affairs the so-called black cabinet she played a key role in ensuring that the New Deal was cognizant of the needs of the black community The Bethune-Cookman College Collection 19221955 The papers of Mary McLeod Bethune from her years as president of Bethune-Cookman College show how she succeeded in building a small black elementary school into an accredited four-year college They reveal the strength of her personality the tenacity of her commitment and the breadth of her concerns and contacts For anyone interested in African American studies womens studies or the history of education in the South the Bethune presidential papers offer rich possibilities for research Bethune the fifteenth child of former slaves had several years teaching experience when in 1904 she opened an elementary school in Daytona Florida with just six students She transformed this beginning into a secondary school then a junior college and finally the four-year Bethune-Cookman College Bethunes Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute merged in 1923 with the Cookman Institute of Jacksonville It was renamed Bethune-Cookman College in 1929 and in 1943 conferred its first four-year degrees in teacher education With enormous energy and effort she developed the academic program and secured essential regional accreditations She traveled and corresponded widely to obtain operating funds an especially difficult task during the depression She recruited fund-raising deputies usually women in northern cities and corresponded with prospective donors In
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