Mary Bethune African American Educator By: Chavante Travillian Frick Middle School 2010 Imagine being a young African-American girl in the 1870’s born to slaves and little to no money or education. You are the youngest out of 17 children. Since you are the daughter of former slaves you have little to no money, but you have the passion to learn and teach. It seems that all odds are against you, right? Well, Mary Bethune beat all the odds and became a very successful teacher. Mary Bethune was born on July 10, 1875 in Mayesville, South Carolina to Samuel and Patsy McLeod. At age 11 Mary Bethune entered a school established by a missionary from the Presbyterian Church. When she got out of school and went home, she spent the rest of her day teaching what she learned at school to the rest of her family. A little later in life she received a scholarship to attend Scotia Seminary, an all girl school for African Americans in Concord, North Carolina. That was just the beginning of a very successful woman. Mary Bethune wanted to be a missionary in Africa. Even though Mary Bethune didn’t achieve being a missionary in Africa, she became an instructor at Presbyterian Mission School in Mayesville in 1896. Later, in 1897, Mary became an instructor at Haines Institute in Agusta, Georgia. Mary Bethune was a very determined, wonderful educator. She was dedicated to teaching. In October of 1904 Mary opened her school. She started her school with only $1.50. Her school started with just six pupils, five girls and her own son. Her school had no equipment. Crates were used as desks, charcoal took the place of pencils, and she got ink from crushed elder berries. This began the Daytona Literary and Industrial school for Negro girls, in a time when most African American children received little to no education. Mary Bethune’s school grew from six students to 250 students. Some people might say that Mary Bethune isn’t important because she was the daughter of a former slave. Some might also say that she wasn’t important because they might think that she only opened a school, and a lot of people have opened schools so they didn’t see what was so special about her opening a school. Most people don’t know that she was more than an educator; she was a social activist. Also many of people may not know this but, Mary Bethune was a distinguished advisor to several American presidents, and a powerful champion of racial equality. Mary was important because in that time a lot of African Americans weren’t really getting an education. In my opinion she paved the way for many African Americans who wanted to be teachers or wanted to open their own schools. Mary Bethune was an African American woman who opened her own school. She was a very important woman. Born from former slaves, no money, and little to no education didn’t stop her from following her dreams and becoming successful. If Mary Bethune didn’t follow her dreams, in my opinion African American people would still have little to no education.