California Educator

June/July 2021

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Who's Your Hero? Have you been inspired by a relatively unknown historical or modern-day hero? Tell us about the person or people you admire most, and why or how you teach your students about their impact. Email with "Heroes" in the subject line. Mary McLeod Bethune was one of the most underappreciated heroes in U.S. history. Most textbooks don't include her, but she was a profound race leader and women's rights champion. She was born in 1875 in South Carolina to formerly enslaved Africans and was one of 17 children. She founded a college in Daytona, Florida, for Black girls, as they were not allowed to attend white schools. Bethune-Cookman University still exists; it set the standards for today 's STEM colleges. Her college became a registration site for Black voters. When she heard the KKK was coming to burn her school, she faced off with Klansmen in the night and said, " You'll have to kill me first." She survived and so did her school. In 1935, Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). It sought to liberate Black women from the trinity of racism, classism and sexism. The NCNW, which still exists, helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, which Bethune did not live to see, as she died in 1955. Bethune was a leader in Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Black Cabinet." She fought to end job discrimination and the lynching of African Americans. In 1940, she became the NAACP vice president and held that position until her passing. President Truman appointed her as a delegate to the United Nations organizing meeting in 1945. I love her strength, her brilliance, and her dedication. She made America a better place. EVAN WADE H I S T O R Y P R O F E S S O R San Joaquin Delta College Teachers Association 20 "I love her strength, her brilliance, and her dedication. She made America a better place." Evan Wade Feature Top photo: Mary McLeod Bethune in front of the college she founded. Bottom photo: Bethune's university still stands today.

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