More than 60 years ago, Mary McLeod Bethune (July 10, 1875-May 18, 1955)—an influential African American educator, freedom fighter and philanthropist—wrote an essay poignantly outlining her legacy to African Americans. Acknowledging her mortality as age 80 approached, Ms. Bethune desired to share her insights on life as a gift to the world and generations to come.
“Sometimes I ask myself if I had any other legacy to leave. Truly, my worldly possessions are few. Yet, my experiences have been rich. From them I have distilled principles and policies in which I believe firmly, for they represent the meaning of my life’s work. They are the products of much sweat and sorrow. Perhaps, in them there is something of value. So, as my life draws to a close, I will pass them on to the Negroes everywhere in the hope that an old woman’s philosophy may give them inspiration. Here, then is my legacy.”
Two months following her death, her “last will and testament” was published in the August 1955 issue of Ebony magazine. Now in August 2015, BlackGivesBack.com is honored to help pass along Ms. Bethune’s generous message to new generations of thinkers, doers and givers in observance of Black Philanthropy Month.
Below is an excerpt from the essay that’s featured in the multimedia exhibit “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited.”
READ THIS MOVING ESSAY IN ITS ENTIRETY HERE.
Submitted by Valaida Fullwood
Described an “idea whisperer,” Valaida brings unbridled imagination and a gift for harnessing wild ideas to her work as a writer and project strategist. She is a founding member of Charlotte’s New Generation of African American Philanthropists, author of Giving Back: A Tribute to Generations of African American Philanthropists and visionary for the touring exhibition “Giving Back: The Soul of Philanthropy Reframed and Exhibited.” Follow @ValaidaF and valaida.com.