The National Council of Negro Women and Bethune-Cookman University, a historically Black educational institution in Daytona Beach, Florida, have joined forces to launch “Advancing the Legacy,” a celebration of the accomplishments of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of both the NCNW and Bethune-Cookman University. Later this year, a statue of Dr. Bethune will be unveiled in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. She will be the first African American to have a state-commissioned statue in the Capitol Rotunda.
“Advancing the Legacy,” is a compelling awareness and fundraising initiative created to provide ongoing support of Dr. Bethune’s lifelong mission of ensuring access to higher education for African American students. The university has achieved one-third of its $12 million campaign goal. All funds will be allocated in support of students, to reduce the cost of access and to strengthen retention and graduation rates.
In 1904 Mary McLeod Bethune opened the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls. This school grew and merged to become what is now Bethune-Cookman University. Dr. Bethune served as an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Dr. Bethune was a humanitarian, philanthropist, businesswoman, political activist and champion of education.
Johnnetta Cole, president of the National Council of Negro Women and past president of Spelman College and Bennett College, stated that “Dr. Bethune fearlessly and successfully surpassed countless obstacles faced by a Black woman, who was raised by former slaves. Even during her childhood in South Carolina, she understood the power of education and made her life’s work to provide access to young black men and women. She also understood the importance of empowering Black women which is why she established the NCNW. Bethune-Cookman University and NCNW are forever connected by her vision and legacy.”