[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 21 (Wednesday, March 2, 1994)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: March 2, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



                               speech of

                            HON. TIM ROEMER

                               of indiana

                    in the house of representatives

                      Wednesday, February 23, 1994

  Mr. ROEMER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today, during Black History Month, to 
honor an African-American whose contribution to education lives far 
beyond her lifetime. Her outstanding achievements have influenced the 
culture, richness, and diversity of every American school today.
  Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator, lecturer, and executive who 
dedicated her adult life to the education of African-Americans. She 
overcame obstacles thought insurmountable in her quest to achieve her 
goals. Her perseverance and dedication to educating African-Americans 
of all ages gave her the courage to challenge those obstacles, and her 
own education ad intelligence gave her the tools to defeat them.
  Mary struggled to gain her own education. Born in 1875 to a newly 
freed slave family, her early years were spent working on the small 
family farm. When she was 9, the first free school opened 5 miles from 
her home. And she walked those 10 miles every day to and from school 
then returned home to teach what she had learned to her family.
  By the age of 15, she had learned the entire curriculum of the small 
school but had no opportunity to move on to a higher education. Her 
family had already mortgaged their farm, and after buying the family's 
food, clothing, and shelter, there was no money left. Mary did finally 
acquire the resources necessary to fund her continued education. A 
donation was made to the school that she was attending in order to fund 
one student's higher education, and the teachers in the school chose 
Mary for that honor. She traveled to the Scotia Seminary located in 
Concord, NC, and there her plan to educate herself transformed into a 
desire to help others build a stronger future for themselves and their 
families through literacy and knowledge.
  She opened a school, very much like the one she attended 5 miles from 
her home, in Daytona Beach, FL. With no money for books, pencils, or 
even lamps, she begged and scavenged what she and her students needed 
to survive and learn. When the school opened, there were only eight 
students. But in just 2 years that number grew to more than 250. In 
1923, the original school merged with a men's college to become the 
Bethune-Cookman College with more than 600 students, 14 modern 
buildings on a campus encompassing 32 acres.
  From teaching, Mary was launched into administration on a national 
level. She served in such posts as director of the Division of Negro 
Affairs of the National Youth Administration, vice president of the 
Commission on Interracial Cooperation of the National Urban League and 
president of the National Council of Negro Women, an organization she 
founded in 1937. She was also honored by being awarded the Spingarn 
Medal and the Francis A. Drexel Award for distinguished service to her 
  Today, the legacy of Mary McLeod Bethune lives in the diversity of 
our schools and the expanded opportunities that African-Americans now 
have in our educational system. Her strength as a teacher, and as a 
person, gives us hope that we can continue to improve the educational 
system and the environment in which our children, of all races, learn 
and grow so that we may give them the opportunity to seek out the 
excellence in themselves that Mary McLeod Bethune found in her own