This Day in Black History: March 5, 1985

The Postal Service issues a stamp in honor of Mary McLeod Bethune.

Posted: 03/05/2014 12:00 AM EST

On March 3, 1985, the United States Postal Service issued a stamp in honor of Mary McLeod Bethune, the renowned educator and civil rights leader best known for founding a college for African-Americans in Florida.

It was one of many honors that she would receive after her death in 1955. In 1989, she was listed by Ebony magazine as one of the 50 most important figures in Black American history. In 1991, the International Astronomical Union names a section on the planet Venus after her.

Indeed, Bethune had a highly influential role in the fight for African-American equality. Known as the “First Lady of the Struggle,” she was an adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The school she founded would become Bethune Cookman University, in Daytona Beach, Florida.

She was born in South Carolina in 1875 to parents who had been slaves. She attended college hoping to be a missionary in Africa. However, she wound up starting a school for African-American girls in Florida. The school eventually grew and merged with another school for African-American boys.

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(Photo: United States Postal Service)

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