The life of Mary Mcleod-Bethune is perfectly reflected in her wisdom about the importance and power of women. Her whole life she dedicated herself to making life worth living for disenfranchised Black women and men in this country. Throughout her life she served in many roles and capacities but always with the purpose of improving the lives of her people.
Mrs. Mcleod-Bethune was an educator, a civil and women’s rights leader, a Cabinet member, businesswoman, community organizer, journalist and founder of the Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona, Florida. In her one lifetime she accomplished enough for multiple lifetimes.
Bethune’s last will and testament states beautifully her life’s devotion to the education and liberation of Black people. Throughout this document she outlines her legacy and what she believes her benefactors need to fully realize the civil rights and freedom she worked so hard for. It reads in part: “Here, then is my legacy.I leave you love…I leave you hope…I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another…I leave you a thirst for education…I leave you respect for the uses of power…I leave you faith…I leave you racial dignity…I leave you a desire to live harmoniously with our fellow men…I leave you finally a responsibility to our young people…”
What Bethune has left for us through her life and in her words are a guide for how we move forward as educators of our children. What is the legacy we leave through our daily practice as teachers? How do we encourage hope in our students for the future? Do we model and inspire a thirst for education through our daily interactions with our young charges? Do we inspire racial dignity and PRIDE through our lessons and activities? How do we demonstrate a responsibility to our young people from moment to moment, every day and year to year?
Bethune reminds us that we cannot and should not rest until every Black child has every opportunity to realize their own brilliance and potential. Through her example we should be affirmed in our ability to be powerful change agents in the lives and education of our students.
She positioned herself in every way to have an impact and we can do so as well. As educators we have the power not only to educate but also advocate, organize and be activists on behalf of our students. Let us be encouraged by the spirit of love and legacy given to us by Mary Mcleod-Bethune.
Peace and love good people.
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