Ashley Robertson PrestonAug 12, 2023
Mary Mcleod Bethune the Pan-Africanist
University Press of Florida 2023
This book examines the Pan-Africanism of Mary McLeod Bethune through her work, which internationalized the scope of Black women's organizations to create solidarity among Africans throughout the diaspora. Broadening the familiar view of Bethune as an advocate for racial and gender equality within the United States, Ashley Preston argues that Bethune consistently sought to unify African descendants around the world with her writings, through travel, and as an advisor.
Preston shows how Bethune's early involvement with Black women's organizations created personal connections across Cuba, Haiti, India, and Africa and shaped her global vision. Bethune founded and led the National Council of Negro Women, which strengthened coalitions with women across the diaspora to address issues in their local communities. Bethune served as director of the Division of Negro Affairs for the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and later as associate consultant for the United Nations alongside W.E.B. DuBois and Walter White, using her influence to address diversity in the military, decolonization, suffrage, and imperialism.
Ashley Robertson Preston's book Mary Mcleod Bethune the Pan-Africanist (UP of Florida, 2023) provides a fuller, more accurate understanding of Bethune's work, illustrating the perspective and activism behind Bethune's much-quoted words: "For I am my mother's daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart." Publication of this work made possible by a Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.