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Daytona Beach History

The Daytona Beach area is rich with an African-American history that encompasses several of the twentieth century's most prolific leaders. These pioneers lead advancements in education, government, athletics and the Civil Rights movement. Two of those leaders -- Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and Dr. Howard Thurman -- called Daytona Beach home.

A pioneer in the equal rights movement, Bethune played a major role in developing the national desegregation movement and became the highest-ranking appointee to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Negro Cabinet.

Beginning with just $1.50 and five young pupils, Bethune, a daughter of freed slaves from South Carolina, opened the doors to the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls in 1904. The school later merged with Jacksonville's Cookman Institute to become Bethune-Cookman College in the mid-1920s. During, and after her lifetime, the college experienced rapid growth from its humble beginnings as a one-room rudimentary school for girls. Bethune-Cookman College now boasts 33 buildings situated on 60 acres. Eight of these buildings have been designated or nominated for listing as National Historic Landmarks.

The campus' most popular landmark is Bethune's home. Bethune often hosted dignitaries at her home including her close friend, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Upon her death in 1955, Bethune was laid to rest in a simple gravesite behind her home which now serves as headquarters for the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation. Visitors can discover Bethune's legacy through the numerous citations, plaques, artifacts and photographs displayed throughout the home. The Bethune Foundation and gravesite is open for tours year round. Contact the Bethune Foundation at (386) 481-2121 or (386) 481-2122 for tour times and information.

Daytona Beach is also the birthplace of famed theologian, Dr. Howard Thurman, who created, taught and wrote of a climate of action-oriented nonviolence that was later inherited and institutionalized by the Civil Rights Movement. Thurman was born in his family's Daytona Beach home in 1900. He became a teacher and Dean of Chapel at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and later a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.




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Source: Daytona Beach CVB; magazineUSA.com
Last modified: 20070426
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