Mary McLeod Bethune Timeline
Timeline Description: Mary McLeod Bethune (born July 10, 1875) was an educator, philanthropist and civil rights activist active in Florida in the first half of the 20th century. Bethune served as an advisor to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and was eventually known as the "First Lady of the Struggle" for her key role in advocating civil rights for African Americans.

Date Event
July 10, 1875 Birth of Mary Jane McLeod

Mary Jane McLeod was one of 17 children born to freed slaves living in poverty in South Carolina. She was the only one of the children to attend school.
1884 Entered Miss Wilson's School

She began attending a school opened by a local missionary, Miss Wilson. She remained at Miss Wilson's school until she received a scholarship in 1887 to Scotia Seminary.
1887 Entered Scotia Seminary

In 1887, McLeod entered Scotia Seminary in North Carolina. She would remain there for six years. She graduated from Scotia Seminary in 1893.
1893 Moody Bible Institute(1893 to 1895)

Between 1893 and 1895, Mary McLeod studied at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
1895 Began Teaching

Having completed her education, McLeod began teaching in 1895. She worked in small schools for African American girls.
1898 Married Albertus Bethune

Mary McLeod married fellow teacher Albertus Bethune in 1898. They had one son together, born in 1899. The marriage ended in 1907.
1904 Opened Daytona Educational and Industrial School for Negro Girls

In her own life, Bethune recognized the value of education. She began her school with only five students, but it grew to 250 students over the coming years.
1912 First Student Completed 8th Grade

In 1912, the first of Mary McLeod Bethune's students completed 8th grade in her school.
1924 President of National Association of Colored Women's Clubs

Bethune was elected President of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. This is her first significant role in the civil rights movement.
1925 Merger of Bethune and Cookman Colleges

Around 1925, Bethune's school merged with the Cookman College for Men. Bethune retained a leadership role in the combined institution. The merge may have occurred as early as 1923 or as late as 1929. She remained with the college until 1942.
February 18, 1935 Founded National Council of Negro Women

On February 18, 1935, Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women, taking on a more significant political role in the burgeoning civil rights movement.
1935 Special Advisor to Roosevelt

With a growing role political role, Bethune became a special advisor on minority issues. She became especially close to Franklin D. Roosevelt's wife Eleanor. The two women remained friends for many years.
1936 Director of Division of Negro Affairs for the National Youth Administration

In 1936, Bethune was appointed to serve as director of the Division of Negro Affairs. She was particularly concerned with job and educational opportunities for African Americans.
1943 Moved to National Council of Negro Women Headquarters

After she stepped down from her administrative role in Bethune-Cookman College, Bethune moved to Washington D.C. She spent the next few years living in the National Council of Negro Women headquarters.
1950 Committee on National Defense(Early 1950s)

In the early 1950s, Bethune served on a committee for National Defense and was sent as a U.S. delegate to Liberia.
May 18, 1955 Mary McLeod Bethune Died

After a brief period of retirement, Bethune died in 1955 in Florida. Her last will and testament strongly stressed the importance of education for African Americans and women.