Mary McLeod Bethune

Friday, February 5, 2021 to Sunday, October 3, 2021

The exhibition explores the life of Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), an educator, civil servant, feminist, and civil rights activist. Born 10 years after the Civil War, Bethune was the first person in her family born free from slavery, and the  first to attend school. In 1895, she graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois in hopes of becoming a missionary. Bethune moved to  Palatka, Florida four years later  to teach at a missionary school and dreamed of starting her own school. In 1904, Bethune's dream came true in Daytona Beach, Florida. As the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls grew, she became involved in various organizations to politically and economically empower African Americans, especially black women, locally and nationally. In 1935, her school combined with the Cookman Institute to form Bethune-Cookman University, which became an important center for black higher education during a period of strict racial segregation. Around the same time, Bethune also became an advisor on African American issues to the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. This exhibition uses images and documents to explore Bethune's achievements in Florida because long-lasting progress often begins on a local level.