Mary McLeod Bethune Quotes

Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955)

Mary McLeod Bethune
Mary McLeod Bethune. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator who founded Bethune-Cookman College and served as its president. Mary McLeod Bethune served in several capacities during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, including head of the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration and advisor on selecting officer candidates for the Women's Army Corps. Mary McLeod Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935.

Selected Mary McLeod Bethune Quotations

• Invest in the human soul. Who knows, it might be a diamond in the rough.

• I leave you love. I leave you hope. I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another. I leave you respect for the use of power. I leave you faith. I leave you racial dignity.

• We live in a world which respects power above all things. Power, intelligently directed, can lead to more freedom.

• Next to God we are indebted to women, first for life itself, and then for making it worth living.

• The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood.

• Whatever glory belongs to the race for a development unprecedented in history for the given length of time, a full share belongs to the womanhood of the race.

• If our people are to fight their way up out of bondage we must arm them with the sword and the shield and the buckler of pride.

• If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves.

We should, therefore, protest openly everything ... that smacks of discrimination or slander.

• I do feel, in my dreamings and yearnings, so undiscovered by those who are able to help me.

• For I am my mother's daughter, and the drums of Africa still beat in my heart. They will not let me rest while there is a single Negro boy or girl without a chance to prove his worth.

• We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.

• There is a place in God's sun for the youth "farthest down" who has the vision, the determination, and the courage to reach it.

• Faith is the first factor in a life devoted to service. Without it, nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible.

• Whatever the white man has done, we have done, and often better.

• You white folks have long been eating the white meat of the chicken. We Negroes are now ready for some of the white meat instead of the dark meat.

• If we have the courage and tenacity of our forebears, who stood firmly like a rock against the lash of slavery, we shall find a way to do for our day what they did for theirs.

• I never stop to plan. I take things step by step.

• Knowledge is the prime need of the hour.

• Cease to be a drudge, seek to be an artist.

• The whole world opened to me when I learned to read.

• From the first, I made my learning, what little it was, useful every way I could.

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About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

Citation information:
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Mary McLeod Bethune Quotes." About Women's History. URL: . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)