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born 1875

Mary McLeod Bethune ~ dubbed the "First Lady of Struggle" ~ was an all-out champion of the rights of African-American women...lovingly referred to as her "daughters." The child of former-slaves-turned-working-poor, she was the only 1 amongst her 17 siblings to attend school.

Driven by the conviction that education was essential to racial equality, Mary spent 10 years as a teacher before going on to establish a college, found a civil rights organization and advise 4 US presidents. A "thirst for education" + "philosophy of living and serving" were the she legacies endowed to future generations in her Last Will and Testament, gifts that continue to guide us.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Mary McLeod Bethune (13)

"Cease to be a drudge. Seek to be an artist."

spoken on platforms + posted in her Domestic Science classrooms | circa 1925

"Enter to Learn; Depart to Serve."

inscription above the entryway of the Main Hall of the Bethune-Cookman Institute | circa 1925

"There is a place in God's sun for the youth 'farthest down' who has the vision, the determination, and the courage to reach it."

"A Century of Progress of Negro Women" | june 1935

"We have fought for America with all her imperfections, not so much for what she is, but for what we know she can be."

What Does American Democracy Mean to Me?" | november 1939

"Sunday afternoon I would take the farm children for miles around – I would give them whatever I had learned during the week...Poetry, reading, songs, etc…I would give to them as often as I got. As I got I gave. They gave me a broader capacity for taking in and I feel that up to today, I feel it in all things."

Interview with Mary McLeod Bethune, ca. 1940 | circa 1940

"I never stop to plan. I take things step by step."

Faith that Moved a Dump Heap | june 1941

"I refused to be discouraged, for neither God nor man can use a discouraged person."

Faith that Moved a Dump Heap | june 1941

"I considered cash money as the smallest of my resources. I had faith in a loving God, faith in myself, and a desire to serve. Although I saw my work would have to be done on a day-to-day basis, I built a fence of trust around each day."

Faith that Moved a Dump Heap | june 1941

"I think I have spent my life well. I pray now that my philosophy may be helpful to those who share my vision of a world of Peace, Progress, Brotherhood, and Love."

Dr. Bethune's Last Will &Testament | 1952

"Any idea that keeps anybody out is too small."

Address to a World Assembly for Moral Re-Armament | july 1954

"I listened to God this morning, and the thought came to me, 'any idea that keeps anybody out is too small for this age—open your heart and let everybody in—every class, every race, every nation.'"

Address to a World Assembly for Moral Re-Armament | july 1954

"Without faith, nothing is possible. With faith, nothing is impossible."

My Last Will and Testament | august 1955

"Love builds."

My Last Will and Testament | august 1955
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curated with care by Alicia Williamson {june 2014}