Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was an educator and civil rights leader. Born in South Carolina to parents who had been slaves, she took an early interest in her own education. With the help of a scholarship, Bethune attended college hoping to become a missionary in Africa. When that did not materialize, she started a school for black girls in Daytona Beach, Florida. From six students, the school eventually grew to become the Bethune-Cookman School. Its quality far surpassed the standards of education for black students and rivaled those of white schools. Bethune worked tirelessly to ensure funding for the school, and used it as a showcase for tourists and donors to exhibit what educated black people could do.

Bethune was also active in various organizations such as the National Association of Colored Woman and National Youth Administration. Her leadership in these organizations led her to found the National Council of Negro Women and the Black Cabinet, furthering her national prominence.