The Dale Mabry campus celebrated Black History Month with a spectacular foray into the life of Dr. Mary McCloud Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College, now Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL. Founded in 1904 as the Daytona Educational and Industrial Training School for girls, it merged with Cookman Institute of Jacksonville, Florida for boys in 1923 and became a co-ed high school.
The presentation of the “reincarnation” of Dr. Bethune was done by Ersula Knox Odom, who transformed herself into the educator as she engaged the audience from a 1954 perspective. The students and staff were captivated by the performance and Ms. Odom, as Dr. Bethune, fielded questions from the audience. She started the talk with a cheer because the U. S. Supreme had just overturned Plessey vs. Ferguson which effectively ended “separate but equal” in America. In fact, Mrs. Bethune took the opportunity to defend the court’s decision by writing her opinion in the Chicago Defender in 1954…she said:
"There can be no divided democracy, no class government, no half-free country, under the constitution. Therefore, there can be no discrimination, no segregation, no separation of some citizens from the rights which belong to all... We are on our way. But these are frontiers which we must conquer... We must gain full equality in education ...in the franchise... in economic opportunity, and full equality in the abundance of life.
The event was chaired by Carolyn Curtis. Faculty members Darryl Myles, Ken McCullough and Greg Miller were on the committee as well as Sharon Thompson who is on staff in the Learning Resource Center. Special thanks to Dr. Bob Chunn for his introduction and support. Students came out in great numbers. This standing-room only presentation celebrated the impact of the many contributions the African-American community has had on this nation. Ms. Odom challenged the audience to question the impact their lives will have on others and to take a stand for what is important to them as citizens in a global society.
To view more photos from this event, please visit the HCC Flickr feed:
Article Written By: Darryl Myles.