Mary McLeod Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women on December 5, 1935. NCNW's mission is to advance the opportunities and the quality of life for African American women, their families, and their communities. For nearly 65 years, NCNW has fulfilled this mission through research, advocacy and community services and programs in both the United States and African countries.
Sometimes as I sit communing in my study I feel that death is not far off. I am aware that it will overtake me before the greatest of my dreams - full equality for the Negro in our time - is realized yet, I face the reality without fear or regrets. I am resigned to death as all humans must be at the proper time. Death neither alarms nor frightens one who has had a long career of fruitful toil. The knowledge that my work has been helpful to many fills me with joy and great satisfaction. Sometimes I ask myself if I had any other legacy to leave. Truly, my worldly possessions are few. Yet, my experiences have been rich. From them I have distilled principals and policies in which I believe firmly, for they represent the meaning of my life's work. They are the products of much sweat and sorrow. Perhaps, in them there is something of value. So, as my life draws to a close, I will pass them on the Negroes everywhere in the hope that an old woman's philosophy may give them inspiration. Here, then is my legacy.
I LEAVE YOU LOVE.
Love builds. It is positive and helpful. It is more beneficial than hate.
I LEAVE YOU HOPE.
The Negro's growth will be great in the years to come. Yesterday, our ancestors endured the degradation of slavery, yet they retained their dignity.
I LEAVE YOU THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING CONFIDENCE IN ONE ANOTHER.
As long as Negroes are hemmed in racial blocs of prejudice and pressure, it will be necessary for them to band together for economic betterment.
I LEAVE YOU A THIRST FOR EDUCATION.
Knowledge is the prime need of the hour.
I LEAVE YOU A RESPECT FOR THE USES OF POWER.
We live in a world, which respects power above all things. Power, intelligently directed; can lead to more freedom. Unwisely directed; it can be a dreadful, destructive force.
I LEAVE YOU FAITH.
Faith is the first factor in a life devoted to service. 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 Negroes to maintain their human dignity at all costs. WE, as Negroes, must recognize that we are the custodians as well as the heirs of a great civilization.
I LEAVE YOU A DESIRE TO LIVE HARMONIOUSLY WITH YOUR FELLOW MEN.
The problem of color is worldwide. It is found in Africa and Asia, Europe and South America. I appeal to American Negroes-both North and South, East and West-to recognize their common problems and unite to solve them.
I LEAVE YOU FINALLY A RESPONSIBILITY TO OUR YOUNG PEOPLE.
The world around us really belongs to our youth for youth will take over its future management. Our children must never lose their zeal for building a better world.
Original version distributed by NATIONAL COUNCIL OF NEGRO WOMEN, INC.