“I leave you a thirst for education. Knowledge is the prime need of the hour.”

“If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of living and serving.”

Mary McLeod Bethune was a firm believer that education was vital for racial advancement. An educator and activist, she founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls and the National Council of Negro Women and served as president of the National Association of Colored Women. Bethune grew up in a family of 17 children, her parents former slaves, in poverty in South Carolina, working in the cotton fields from a very early age. She was the only child in her family to go to school, and she walked for miles each day to get there. Bethune’s talent earned her a scholarship to higher education, and she then became a teacher. The Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute merged with a men’s school and became the Bethune-Cookman College, one of the few places where Black students could actually earn a college degree. Bethune also worked in public service, most notably as the special advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt on minority affairs and as the director of the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration. Bethune indeed leaves the vital legacy of her “philosophy of living and serving.”