Mary McLeod Bethune was often called the "First Lady of Negro America," but she made significant contributions to the political climate of Florida as well. From the founding of the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls in 1904, Bethune galvanized African American women for change. She created an environment in Daytona Beach that, despite racial tension throughout the state, allowed Jackie Robinson to begin his journey to integrating Major League Baseball less than two miles away from her school. Today, her legacy lives through a number of institutions, including Bethune-Cookman University and the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation National Historic Landmark. In her new book Mary McLeod Bethune in Florida: Bringing Social Justice to the Sunshine State
(The History Press, 2015), historian Ashley Robertson
explores the life, leadership and amazing contributions of this dynamic activist.
Adam McNeil is a PhD Student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.