Oct. 3, 1904
Mary McLeod Bethune opened a training school in Daytona Beach, Florida, with “$1.50, faith in God and five little girls.” Discarded crates and boxes served as their desks and chairs.
Eventually that school became an accredited institution, Bethune-Cookman College, and she served as a college president, one of the few women in the world to do so.
“Invest in the human soul,” she urged. “Who knows? It might be a diamond in the rough.”
A determined civil rights leader, she decried the lynchings of Black Americans and fought for voting rights and better health care. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her as a national adviser of his “Black Cabinet” to direct the National Youth Administration. She was known as “The First Lady of The Struggle” because of her dedication to the movement.
Her home in Daytona Beach was designated as a National Historic Landmark. In 2018, the Florida Legislature designated her to become one of two statues representing the state inside the U.S. Capitol. Two years later, Time selected her as one of the most influential women of the past century.