The child of slaves, Mary McLeod Bethune opened a training school for African American girls in Florida in 1904. Over the years, the school evolved and grew, becoming a junior college, then offering a four-year baccalaureate program in liberal arts and teacher education. By the early 1940s, Bethune was a national fi gure and had been named director of the Division of Negro Affairs in President Franklin Roosevelt’s National Youth Administration. She was one of the exceptional African-Americans whom Edwin Rogers Embree asked Parks to photograph for 13 Against the Odds.

Parks visited Bethune at the college; he described her as a mother hen, tidying up her roost, doing her best to prepare students not only with book smarts, but also with the practical skills they would need to make a life for themselves. His photographs testify to his deep admiration for the legendary educator, and to the hope her tireless efforts brought to many Black students.