“I leave you a thirst for education. I leave you a respect for the use of power. I leave you faith.”
― Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune
Growing up, my hero, apart from my mother and grandmother, was Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. She was a trailblazer in the field of educational advocacy for Black children in her era. She understood the power of education and committed her life to creating academic opportunity and civic empowerment for Black youth. She used her vision to change countless lives. I think what impressed me the most about her was that she was undeterred by the views or prejudices of others.
She was an educator, civil rights pioneer, political strategist, college president, hospital administrator, social activist, presidential cabinet member, philanthropist, and missionary, among other things. Despite growing up in abject poverty, having her education withheld from her because of the color of her skin, being rejected by potential employers because of her ethnicity and countless other hurdles, she refused to be limited by others or placed in a box. And she refused to accept the limitations others tried to place on her community and what they could achieve.
Ultimately, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune had faith--an unrelenting, unchanging, supernatural faith, even when things were bleak. Today, we need to look to women of faith like Dr. McLeod Bethune for guidance and inspiration. She believed that no matter how desolate the night, joy would come in the morning. And it did for her and the scores of lives she changed. And it will for us.