With No Money, This Teacher Started Her Own Educational Institution

mary mcleod bethune signing documents surrounded by people
Via Picryl
Cydney Smith
May 1, 2023

Education for Black people – especially Black girls – wasn’t exactly easy to come by in the early 20th century. But in 1904, Mary McLeod Bethune refused to let the status quo stop her from teaching and serving her community.

With only $1.50 to start, she founded Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls, a space for Black girls to get the learning they deserved. Starting with five students, Bethune fundraised and networked to pool in volunteers, increase enrollment, and expand the training facility to become an accredited high school! That was just the beginning.

In the 1920s, the school became co-educational and saw a name change. In the 1930s, it became a junior college. And in the 1940s, it became a four-year liberal arts college!

Mary McLeod Bethune served as Bethune-Cookman College’s president until her 1942 retirement. But presidents that came after her continued the incredible work Bethune began. It was in 2007 that this HBCU achieved the highest designation of all – University status!

There's a valuable lesson for us here. Bethune’s dream became a reality not because of the money in her pocket but because of her ability to build Black support for what our community needed. We can strive to do the same!

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