This town house is the last D.C. residence of African-American activist/educator Bethune, who was a leading champion of blacks’ and women’s rights during FDR’s administration. Born in South Carolina in 1875, the 15th of 17 children of former slaves, Mary McLeod grew up in poverty but learned the value of education through her schooling by missionaries. It was a lesson she passed forward. By the time she died in 1955 at the age of 79, McLeod—now Bethune, from her marriage in 1898 to Albert Bethune—had founded a school for “Negro girls” in Daytona Beach, Florida that would later become the Bethune-Cookman College, today Bethune-Cookman University; received 11 honorary degrees; served on numerous government advisory commissions, including the National Child Welfare Commission; and acted as Special Advisor on Minority Affairs to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt from 1935 to 1944. Bethune also established this headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women to advance the interests of African-American women and the black community. Maintained by the National Park Service, the Bethune House exhibits focus on the professional achievements of this remarkable woman.
- Elise Hartman Ford