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Sometimes I ask myself if I have 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 product of much sweat and sorrow. Perhaps, in them is something of value. Here, then, is my legacy.

I leave you LOVE. Love builds. It is positive and hopeful. It is more beneficial than hate. Love thy neighbor is a precept which could transform the world if it were universally practiced.
I leave you with HOPE. Yesterday, our ancestors endured degradation, yet they retained their dignity. Today, we direct our economic and political strength toward winning a more abundant and secure life.
I leave you A THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE . Knowledge is the prime need of the hour. More and more, we are taking full advantage of hard won opportunities for learning. If we continue in this trend, we will be able to rear increasing numbers of strong purposeful men and women equipped with vision, mental clarity, health and education.
I leave you THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING CONFIDENCE IN ONE ANOTHER.  We must spread out as fast and as far as we can but we must also help each other as we go.
I leave you A RESPECT FOR THE USE OF POWER. We live in a world which respects power above all things. Power intelligently directed, can lead to more freedom. It has always been my first concern that power should be placed on the side of human justice. We must select leader who are wise and courageous, and of great moral stature and ability. We have great leaders among us today. We have had other great men and women of the past: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Mary Church Terrell.
I leave you FAITH. Without faith nothing is possible. With it, nothing is impossible. Faith in God is the greatest power, but great too is faith in oneself.
I leave you RACIAL DIGNITY. I want us to maintain our human dignity at all costs. We must recognize that we are the custodians as well as the heirs of a great civilization. We have given something to the world and for this we are proud and fully conscious of our place in the total picture of mankind's development. Despite many crushing burdens and handicaps, I have risen from the cotton fields of South Carolina to found a college, administer it during its years of growth, become a public servant in the government and country, and a leader of women.
I leave you A DESIRE TO LIVE HARMONIOUSLY with your one another.
I leave you, finally A RESPONSIBILITY TO OUR YOUNG PEOPLE. We have a powerful potential in our youth and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.
LOVE, FAITH, COURAGE, KINSHIP, DIGNITY, AMBITION, RESPONSIBILITY -- these are needed today as never before. We must cultivate them and use them as tools for our task of completing the establishment of equality. We must sharpen these tools in the struggles that face us and find new ways of using them. The Freedom Gates are half ajar. We must pry them fully open.

If I have a legacy to leave my people, it is my philosophy of Living and Serving. As I face tomorrow, I am content. I think I have spent my life well. I pray now that my philosophy may be helpful to those who share my

VISION OF A WORLD OF PEACE!!

Mary McLeod Bethune

 

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Last modified: May 27, 2001