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The Bethune-Cookman College

After just a year Mary was transferred to yet another Presbyterian Mission school, the Kendall Institute, in Sumter, South Carolina. It was there that she met another teacher named Albertus Bethune. The two were married in 1898. Albertus and Mary moved several times over the next few years and Mary worked intermittently. In 1904, Mary heard that a new railroad project was attracting much of the South’s free Black workers, so she moved to Daytona, FL and with just $1.50 she opened the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. While the school had just five students its first year, through Mary’s tenacious recruitment and promotion the school’s enrollment ballooned to 250 girls by the third year. Although Mary and Albertus’ marriage eventually dissolved in 1907, the school in Daytona continued to thrive and by 1923 it merged with the local Cookman Institute for Men in Jacksonville, FL and became known as the Bethune-Cookman College.

For nearly forty years Mary nurtured the young women and men of the Cookman-Bethune College and to this day her home on the campus is maintained as a National Historic Landmark.

In 2007, Bethune-Cookman College became a fully accredited university by offering its first Master’s degree program. To this day, Bethune-Cookman University remains dedicated to Mary’s original mission of educating African Americans and is one of America’s 105 historically Black colleges and universities.