Bethune, Mary McLeod bəthyo͞on´ [key], 1875–1955, American educator, b. Mayesville, S.C., grad. Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, 1895. The 17th child of former slaves, she taught (1895–1903) in a series of southern mission schools before settling in Florida to found (1904) the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls. From 1904 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1947, she served as president of the institute, which, after merging with Cookman Institute (1923), became Bethune-Cookman College. A leader in the American black community, she founded the National Council of Negro Women (1935) and was director (1936–44) of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration. In addition, she served as special adviser on minority affairs to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. At the 1945 conference that organized the United Nations, she was a consultant on interracial understanding.
See biography by R. Holt (1964).