Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of what is now Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, is one of the first three inductees into the Florida Civil Rights Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was established by the state legislature to honor Floridians who have made significant contributions in the fight for equality and social justice.
Mary McLeod Bethune was a native of South Carolina and the daughter of former slaves. She was educated at Barber-Scotia College and the Moody Bible Institute. In 1904, she made a down payment on land that served as the city dump in Daytona. On that site she founded the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls, which has now become Bethune-Cookman University. Bethune later founded the National Council of Negro Women. She was a friend and adviser to Eleanor Roosevelt. Mary McLeod Bethune died in 1955.
The other two inductees are Claude Pepper, a U.S. Senator who was a strong advocate for the nation’s elderly, and Charles Kenzie Steele, a civil rights activist and minister who organized the Tallahassee bus boycott. Each inductee will be honored with a plaque on the first floor of the State Capitol.