Born in South Carolina to former slaves, Mary McLeod Bethune placed a high importance on education. She walked 5 miles to school each day, and when she returned home from the exhaustive trek, Mary McLeod Bethune taught her family what she learned.
She started a school for young African-American women in Daytona, Florida that later merged with an institute for young African-American men to form Bethune-Cookman University. She dutifully served as the university’s president for several years and was one of few women to hold such a position. In addition, she founded the National Council of Negro Women in New York City in 1935 and worked tirelessly to advance equality and equity for all people.
Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator, government official, and activist, but it was her passion for teaching and learning that set the pathway for the best and brightest to become scholars and teachers. She was a pioneer of excellence, achievement, and progress.