Mary McLeod Bethune: Strong Black Women Just Keep on Coming

February 12, 2011

I want [blacks] to maintain their dignity at all cost. We as [blacks] must recognize that we are the custodians as well as the heirs of a great civilization. We have given something to the world as a race and for this we are proud and fully conscious of our place in the total picture of mankind’s development…I would not exchange my color for all the wealth in the world, for had I been born white, I might not have been able to do all I have done or yet hope to do.”

Mary McLeod Bethune was one of the most significant women of the twentieth century. She remains a model for both women and men. She was an institution in black life and the ambassador to the halls of the white power structure. In the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt named her director for [black] affairs the National Youth Administration, the most influential position a black women had ever held in the federal government.

As the founder and president of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) she advocated the empowerment of females through unity and struggle. In 1926, she called for “a worldwide meeting of women of color’ to chart a strategy for mutual progress.

Bethune, along with other female stalwarts of black female empowerment provided local self-help programs and a vision of black female self-sufficiency for American Americans before the dawn of the New Deal. She championed the cause of women and the voiceless at every crossroad.

Mary McLeod Bethune was a symbol of race leadership and a paragon of integrity and exemplar of achievement.

We salute, Mary McLeod Bethune, thou more than women!

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