Diamond in the Rough

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Mary McLeod Bethune, a diamond in the rough, became a smooth, attractive, and precious stone during her time on earth. She was born to a family of ex-slaves; later in life, she became an equal right activist for black Americans. Who would have thought she would be advocate and counsel to four US Presidents? Bethune was well known, and she was passionate about racial advancements, education, and equality for blacks. Her exposure to strong, independent, female role models ultimately developed her belief that black women play a major role in sustaining the black race. Early in her life, at age 12, she won a scholarship to Scotia Seminary in North Carolina where she continued her education. Graduating in 1894 with thoughts of being a missionary in Africa, she went to Moody Bible Institute. Incorporating the struggle for gender equality with the efforts for black equality, Bethune distinguished herself from other race leaders. In 1904, with a vision, $1.50, and 5 students, she opened the Daytona Literary and Industrial School. Struggling every step of the way and facing increasing opposition, Bethune never gave up hope. Armed with love for her fellow human beings and an unwavering faith in God, she pressed on. Many parents could not afford to pay the weekly tuition of 50 cents; however, every child was accepted and given a chance to attain an education. Then, in 1923, her institute merged with Cookman Institute to become Bethune-Cookman College. As the years passed, her school became a prominent institute for learning and Bethune progressively involved herself in politics. Through her interactions with leaders in Washington, she was instrumental in the integration of black women into public leadership roles. As president of the National Association of Colored Women, Bethune held the highest position a black woman could seek. Bethune spearheaded the fight against major issues facing blacks by forming the...
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