In honor of Black History Month, on February 7, Dr. Evelyn Bethune spoke to an audience of Beacon College students, faculty, and staff about the legacy of her grandmother, Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College. Dr. Bethune told the inspirational story of how her grandmother, the 15th of 17 children and the first to be born free, founded Bethune-Cookman College in 1904. According to Dr. Evelyn, Mary McLeod Bethune believed that all people have the right to an education and it is this which leads to their freedom. She had a vision. In an age when racism was rampant and civil rights to blacks limited, Mary McLeod Bethune counted Eleanor Roosevelt as one of her best friends, and as an adviser to four United States presidents, she refused to use the back door at the White House as was expected at the time. She believed that “people can only do to you what you allow them to do.” Mary McLeod Bethune valued learning and endeavored to pass it on to others. She was a civil rights leader who not only founded a school, but also the National Council of Negro Women.
Dr. Bethune challenged Beacon College students to think of the positive when surrounded by negative and to use technology to get information they could use to make the world a better place, as her grandmother did. Her grandmother’s philosophy was that “service is the greatest gift you can give.” Mary McLeod Bethune always used her power and influence to help others, not herself.
According to Dr. Bethune, the campus of Bethune-Cookman consists of hallowed ground, as this is where her grandmother is buried. In closing, she urged students to think of her grandmother as a “powerful woman of God.” Mary McLeod Bethune is truly an important figure in American history, and students were inspired by her story.
~ Gretchen Dreimiller
On Tuesday, February 19th, enjoy the next special event for Black History Month- an Evening with Lonnie Johnson, former NFL player. Dinner will be served at 5:00pm in the Student Center, followed by Mr. Johnson’s talk. Tickets to this event are now available in the Student Center.