Mary Jane McLeod Bethune (July 10, 1875 - May 18, 1955) was born
in Mayesville, South Carolina and died in Daytona Beach, Florida. A
tireless educator born to former slaves, she is best known for
founding a school in 1904 that later became part of Bethune-Cookman
University in Daytona Beach. She was president of the college from
1923 to 1942 and 1946 to 1947, one of the few women in the world
who served as a college president at that time. Bethune worked for
the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, and attempted to get
him to support a proposed law against lynching.
She was also a member of Roosevelt's Black Cabinet, among other
leadership positions in organizations for women and African
Americans. Upon her death, columnist Louis E. Martin said, "She
gave out faith and hope as if they were pills and she some sort of
doctor." Her house is preserved by the National Park Service as
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site, and a
sculpture of her is located in Lincoln Park in Washington, DC.