Mary McLeod Bethune: Building on a Dream Study Guide

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prepared by Cathy Kaemmerlen

SS4H6c, SS4H6d, ELAGSE4SL1, TAES4.11

Mama Koku, Donna “Kokumo” Buie is a Master Storyteller for children of all ages, performing professionally for 17 years.  Graduating with honors from North Carolina Central Univ., she majored in theatre arts with concentrations in performance and education.  She is the official storyteller for the National Black Arts Festival’s Children’s Education Village and performs at the Wrens Nest, Fulton County Teaching Museums, and through Peach Seed Storytellers.

This is a one-woman show on the life and contributions of Mary McLeod Bethune who spent her life improving educational and career opportunities for African American students.  Born to slave parents, she was the first in her family to receive an education.  She became the first African American woman to be president of a college; the first African American woman to serve on a presidential cabinet; and became an advisor to Eleanor Roosevelt in establishing the mission statement for the United Nations. She was the recipient of many awards, a beloved teacher to thousands of students, calling herself a “diamond in the rough.” She left behind a legacy of hope and love and encouraged students to follow their dreams.

-To learn about the contributions of Mary McLeod Bethune to further the education of African Americans in the United States.
-To learn about the contributions of Mary McLeod Bethune to fight for the freedoms, justice, and rights of African Americans in the United States.
-To learn about the contributions of Mary McLeod Bethune to African American women.
-To learn about her qualities of perseverance, overcoming obstacles, determination, diligence, and dedication to her mission.

I know you cannot all remember my name, but you will remember my face, remember this crown of white hair, remember the yearnings of a heart that is pleading for the unity of the world.”

“Treat anger with kindness; bigotry with dignity; hate with love.”

Last will and Testament:
“I leave you the challenge of developing confidence in one another
I leave you a thirst for education.
I leave you a respect for the uses of power.
I leave you a desire to live harmoniously with your fellowmen.
I leave you a responsibility to our young people.
I leave you faith.
I leave you dignity.
I leave you hope.
I leave you love.”

-Read a biography of Mary McLeod Bethune to the class or watch a you tube video on her.
-Talk about what obstacles she had to face throughout her life and how she overcame them.
-Talk about how you would react if someone told you that reading books was not allowed for you.
– Talk about how you would feel if you were told there was no school allowed for you past the 8th grade.

How did Mary McLeod Bethune make a difference?
Why is she included as one of the American figures and heroes studied in the third grade?
-What would you have done if you had no money to build a school or follow your dream?
-What excites you the most about Mary McLeod Bethune’s accomplishments?


Industrial education:  learned skills to help find work in sewing, cooking, washing, cleaning.
Cabinet:  group of people that offers advice to a president
Civil rights:  the personal freedoms that belong to all citizens of the US as guaranteed by our Constitution
Discrimination:  unfair treatment of people simply because they are different; preventing them from getting jobs, going to school, etc.
Ku Klux Klan:  group that discriminates against people who are not white and Christian–known to commit acts of violence.
Injustice: something that is unfair or takes away a person’s right.
Perseverance:  the act of trying long and hard until something is accomplished.
Policies:  rules and regulations about ways to do thing.
Prejudiced:  negative feelings or opinions about other people as a group and without good reason.
Racism:  negative feeling about people because of the color of their skin.
Segregation:  action and laws that separate groups of people from one another.
Jim Crow laws:  named after a black character in minstrel shows, these laws from teh 1880’s into the 1960’s enforced segregation.

MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE by Eloise Greenfield c 1967, a Crowell bio
MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE:  JOURNEY TO FREEDOM The African American Library by Amy Robin Jones:  The Child’s World, c 2001
BUILDING A DREAM:  MARY BETHUNE’s SCHOOL by Richard Kelso.  Steck-Vaughn Co, c 1993
MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE:  A GREAT TEACHER:  Great African Americans by Patricia and Frederick McKissack. Enslow Pub, c 1991
MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE:  EDUCATOR AND ACTIVIST African-Americn Bios by Andrea Broadwater. Enslow Pubs, c 2003
MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE:  TEACHER WITH A DREAM, A Discovery Bio by LaVere Anderson:. Chelsea House Pubs, c 1990.
MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE:  A GREAT AMERICAN EDUCATOR by Patricia C McKissack.  Children’s Press, Chicago, c 1985
Madelyn Sanders as Mary McLeod Bethune on You Tube