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Building A Dream: Mary Bethune's School
Building A Dream: Mary Bethune's School
(Richard Kelso, Alex Haley, Debbe Heller)

Building A Dream: Mary Bethune's SchoolBuilding A Dream: Mary Bethune's School
Building A Dream describes Mary Bethune's struggle to establish a school for African American children in Daytona Beach, Florida.
On October 3, 1904, Mary McLeod Bethune opened the doors to her Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro girls. She had six students—five girls along with her son, aged 8 to 12. There was no equipment; crates were used for desks and charcoal took the place of pencils; and ink came from crushed elderberries. Bethune taught her students reading, writing, and mathematics, along with religious, vocational, and home economics training.
The Daytona Institute struggled in the beginning, with Bethune selling baked goods and ice cream to raise funds. The school grew quickly, however, and within two years it had more than two hundred students and a faculty staff of five. By 1922, Bethune's school had an enrollment of more than 300 girls and a faculty of 22. In 1923, The Daytona Institute became coeducational when it merged with the Cookman Institute in nearby Jacksonville. By 1929, it became known as Bethune-Cookman College, where Bethune herself served as president until 1942. Today her legacy lives on. In 1985, Mary Bethune was recognized as one of the most influential African American women in the country. A postage stamp was issued in her honor, and a larger-than-life-size statue of her was erected in Lincoln Park, Capitol Hill, in Washington, DC.
Richard Kelso is a published author and an editor of several children's books. Some of his published credits include: Building A Dream: Mary Bethune's School (Stories of America), Days of Courage: The Little Rock Story (Stories of America) and Walking for Freedom: The Montgomery Bus Boycott (Stories of America).
Debbe Heller is a published author and an illustrator of several children's books. Her other credits include: To Fly With The Swallows: A Story of Old California (Stories of America) and Tales From The Underground Railroad (Stories of America).
Alex Haley, as General Editor, wrote the following introduction:
Introduction By Alex Haley, General Editor
Nowadays, if you are of school age, going to school is the most ordinary thing in the world. But it wasn't always so. For many Americans in the early 1900s, school was at best a dream. If you were poor, female, and black, it was something else as well. It was impossible.
But some people dreamed anyway. Mary McLeod Bethune, who was poor, female and black, was one who followed her dream. And she shared it with others. This is her story.
Dreamers like Mrs. Bethune gives us more than just what they have accomplished. They give us their example. By their example they teach us that dreaming is the first step in doing the impossible. So if you have a dream, live it. Make the impossible happen. ~ Alex Haley.
(The above Foreword by Alex Haley is presented under the Creative Commons License. © 1993 Dialogue Systems, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)
Building A Dream: Mary Bethune's School • Reviews
"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." - Mary McLeod Bethune.
"Mary McLeod Bethune rose from poverty to become one of the nation's most distinguished African American leaders and the most prominent black woman of her time." - Contemporary Black Biography.
"In 1904, Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune arrives in Daytona Beach, Florida, with a dream in her heart and a dollar fifty in her purse. Her dream is to use education to build a future for African-American children living in the segregated South." - Cambium Learning.
"An African-American educator and civil rights leader who in 1904 founded a school for girls that later became part of Bethune-Cookman College. In the late 1930s and early 1940s she held an administrative position under the New Deal. In 1949 she founded the National Council of Negro Women, which opposed the poll tax and racial discrimination and which promoted the teaching of black history in the public schools." - The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy.
"With an initial investment of less than two dollars, Bethune began to fulfill her dream of operating a quality school for poor African-American children. Eventually, it grew from a beginning enrollment of 5 girls in 1904 to close to 250 students in 1906. Bethune is portrayed as a strong and determined woman whose faith never wavered in trying times." - School Library Journal.

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