Statement on Signing a Bill Designating the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House as a National Historic Site

October 15, 1982

It is my pleasure to sign into law S. 2436, a bill to designate the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House in Washington, D.C., as a national historic site.

The designation of the Council House, the last official residence of Mary McLeod Bethune, will preserve this symbol of the rich legacy provided this nation as a result of the life and work of this great American -- a black woman who inspired countless others of her generation and beyond.

Mrs. Bethune's work as a public figure during and immediately following the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt is directly associated with her work at Council House. It was from the Council House between 1936 and 1949 that Mrs. Bethune simultaneously administered the Bethune-Cookman College in Florida, served as director of the Division of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration, and rose to prominence as a national and international leader.

Council House was the first national headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women and was a significant center for the development of strategies and programs which advanced the interests of the black community.

Because the National Council of Negro Women will retain fee title to the property, located at 1318 Vermont Avenue NW., here in Washington, it will not become part of the Federal estate in the traditional sense. The Secretary of the Interior is authorized to enter into agreements with the Council for assistance in the interpretation, restoration, and maintenance of the historic site, in order to preserve it and to provide for its enjoyment by all Americans and other admirers of Mary McLeod Bethune throughout the world.

Note: As enacted, S. 2436 is Public Law 97 - 329, approved October 15.