Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune: A Community Tribute

Celebrating the Legacy of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune: A Community Tribute 

On July 10th, 2024, the campus of Bethune-Cookman University was alive with excitement and reverence as the community came together to celebrate what would have been the 149th birthday of the university's beloved founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. The Carl S. Swisher Library, a treasured landmark on campus, served as the heart of the celebration, where people from all walks of life gathered to pay homage and reflect on the profound legacy left by Dr. Bethune.

The event drew a diverse crowd, including students, faculty, alumni, local residents, and dignitaries. Among the notable attendees were Mayor Derrick Henry of Daytona Beach and several of Dr. Bethune’s descendants, who traveled from various parts of the country to honor her memory. Mayor Henry captured the sentiment of the day perfectly: "Dr. Bethune’s influence extends far beyond the boundaries of this campus. Her work in civil rights and education has shaped the lives of countless individuals, and her legacy continues to guide us toward a brighter future."

The observance was a day-long affair filled with warmth and reflection, featuring a series of heartfelt video tributes and inspiring speeches. The highlight of the day was the exhibit at the Carl S. Swisher Library, showcasing a collection of personal items that once belonged to Dr. Bethune. These artifacts, including her books, letters, photographs, and even her iconic dress, provided a poignant connection to her life and work.

Dr. Tasha Youmans, Chief Librarian and Dean of the Library, shared her thoughts: "The Carl S. Swisher Library holds many treasures of Dr. Bethune’s life. Today, as we open this exhibit to the public, we are reminded of her relentless pursuit of knowledge and her dedication to empowering others. It is our honor to preserve and share her legacy with the community."

The celebration on July 10th, 2024, marked the 149th anniversary of Dr. Bethune's birth. The date was chosen not only to honor her birthday but also to celebrate her lasting impact on education and civil rights.

Centered at the Carl S. Swisher Library on the Bethune-Cookman University campus, the library was transformed into a space of reflection and admiration, fitting for the occasion. Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s contributions to education and civil rights have left a lasting imprint on the university and the wider community. Her vision of empowerment through learning continues to inspire generations.

Dr. Clarissa West-White, Archivist, added a personal touch: "Each item in this collection tells a story of Dr. Bethune’s incredible journey. From her personal writings to her photographs, these artifacts offer a glimpse into the life of a woman who was not only a visionary leader but also a mentor and friend to many. We hope that this exhibit inspires all who visit to continue her work and strive for excellence."

The observance of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s 149th birthday was more than a commemoration; it was a heartfelt celebration of a life dedicated to service, education, and the betterment of humanity. As the community gathered at the Carl S. Swisher Library, surrounded by the cherished remnants of Dr. Bethune’s remarkable life, they were reminded of the profound impact one individual can have. The event not only honored her memory but also reignited the collective commitment to uphold her legacy for generations to come.