Professor’s new book examines Dr. Bethune’s activism in Florida
BY PENNY DICKERSON
The contributions of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune will be given literary homage in a new book by Dr. Ashley Robertson, curator, assistant professor and museum director at the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation.
Robertson’s historical chronicle is titled “Mary McLeod Bethune in Florida: Bringing Social Justice to the Sunshine State.” The book will be released on June 29 by The History Press and Arcadia Publishing, one of the largest and most comprehensive producers of local and regional content in the country.
“This book was written to give credence to a woman who gave so much to this world,” Robertson said.
“She sacrificed her comfort, her family and freedom to secure the rights to education, equality and civil rights because of her dedication to creating change.”
Keeper of collections
Robertson grew up in Oxford, N.C. and moved to Daytona Beach in 2013 from Washington, D.C.
She is a 2013 graduate of Howard University, where she received a Ph.D. in History with a major in African Diaspora and a minor in Public History. Her dissertation topic was “The Drums of Africa Still Beat In My Heart: The International Activism of Mary McLeod Bethune and National Council of Negro Women.”
In her current position, she preserves collections belonging to Dr. Bethune along with her historic home, which was built in 1915 and remains located on the campus of Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU). In 1975, the residence was declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service and is visited annually by thousands.
Dr. Bethune was often called the “First Lady of Negro America,’’ but she made significant contributions to the political climate of Florida as well.
Robertson invites historians, academics and interested readers at large into the 144 pages as she chronicles B-CU founder’s efforts to establish social justice throughout the state of Florida.
Highlighted is the racial climate of Daytona Beach, including Jackie Robinson’s 1946 game with the Montreal Royals. Bethune’s courageous activism resulted in baseball being integrated the next year.
Dr. Bethune also played a pivotal role in establishing equal rights for women.
Proceeds to literacy program
“It is my sincere hope that this book will both pay homage to Mrs. Bethune and ignite a flame to those who have a desire bring social justice to their communities throughout the world, “ added Robertson, who will donate a portion of the book’s proceeds to the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation – National Historic Landmark to support the Books and Bears Literacy program.
“I would hope that by reading about the life of a woman who rose from enslaved parents to walk with world leaders and presidents, and a woman who founded a college with $1.50, that one could find inspiration to believe that they can achieve anything,” Robertson added.
Bethune-Cookman began as the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls. Dr. Bethune started it in 1904 with five pupils and $1.50.
July 9 book signing
Robertson’s new book includes a foreword by Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd, president of Alabama State University and former national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
A local book signing is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. on July 9 on campus. The event is sponsored by the Daytona Beach Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Theta Sorority. Robertson is a member of the sorority. Dr. Bethune also was a member.
RSVP for the book signing by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 386-481-2122.