Born July 10, 1875, in Mayesville, South Carolina, Mary Jane McLeod Bethune became a civil rights leader and educator known best for creating a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida — now known as Bethune-Cookman University.
Born to enslaved African parents, she left her legacy upon the wall of time: serving the African-American community, advising U.S. presidents, and more. Rising from a humble background, she became an icon of African womanhood in the face of great social and economic challenges.
Below is one of McLeod’s writings, titled My Last Will and Testament:
If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of living and serving.
Here, Then, is My Legacy…
I leave you love.
- Love builds. It is positive and helpful.
I leave you hope.
- Yesterday, our ancestors endured the degradation of slavery, yet they retained their dignity.
I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another.
- This kind of confidence will aid the economic rise of the race by bringing together the pennies and dollars of our people and ploughing them into useful channels.
I leave you thirst for education.
- Knowledge is the prime need of the hour.
I leave you a respect for the uses of power.
- Power, intelligently directed, can lead to more freedom.
I leave you faith.
- Faith in God is the greatest power, but great, too, is faith in oneself.
I leave you racial dignity.
- I want Negroes to maintain their human dignity at all costs.
I leave you a desire to live harmoniously with your fellow man.
I leave you, finally, a responsibility to our young people.
- The world around us really belongs to youth, for youth will take over its future management.
— Mary McLeod Bethune
Source: Black History Heroes
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