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Black Facts for April 25th

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1944 - United Negro College Fund (1944– )

The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was founded on April 25, 1944 by Frederick Patterson, President of the Tuskegee Institute, and Mary McLeod Bethune, an advisor to the Franklin Roosevelt Administration, to provide a steady, consistent stream of funding to 27 financially struggling small historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) scattered across the south.   It also hoped to support access to higher education for impoverished African American students by "an appeal to the national conscience."  

Early UNCF supporters included President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.  The first annual fundraising effort generated $760,000, a sum that would be worth approximately $8.6 million in 2008 dollars.  In 1959 Massachusetts Senator (and future President) John F. Kennedy donated the proceeds from his Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage, to the UNCF.  

Between its founding in 1944 and 1970, the fundraising efforts of the UNCF were directed primarily by and toward influential whites such as John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who sat on the board until his death in 1960. Only in 1970 with the selection of Vernon Jordan did African Americans gain full control of the UNCF. The arrival of Jordan as president led to a dramatic increase in direct appeals to black Americans including especially graduates of the member colleges. Beginning in 1980, the organization enlisted singer Lou Rawls to lead an annual telethon, initially called the "Lou Rawls Parade of Stars" to raise money for UNCF scholarships.  The annual telethons raised more than $200 million through 2006, the year of Rawls"s death.

In 1972, Forest Long, an executive of the Young and Rubicam advertising agency, developed the now nationally recognized slogan, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  The UNCF motto became one of the most widely recognized slogans in advertising history.

The United Negro College Fund is an active supporter of black college attendance.  In addition to funding for the now 39 member institutions, it

1974 - Angolan Civil War (1975-2002)

The Angolan Civil War, beginning at the time of the country"s independence from Portugal in 1975, was a 27-year struggle involving the deaths of over 500,000 soldiers and civilians.  Initiated at the height of the Cold War, pro- and anti-communist forces in Angola set the stage for a proxy fight between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).  Though the fighting officially ended in 2002, Angola remains in economic and social turmoil with a massive refugee crisis and millions of landmines impeding farming practices.

Rich in diamonds and oil, Angola was one of the last African nations to receive independence from a European power.  On April 25, 1974, a Portuguese military coup d’état protesting the country’s colonial practices successfully overthrew the regime.  The combined forces of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA), and the National Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) created a transitional government with the Alvor Accord of 1974.

Within a year the government had disintegrated, and with aid from the USSR and the Cuban military, the Marxist-oriented MPLA under the leadership of José dos Santos had wrested control of most of Angola.  Indirectly and through proxies, governments from the United States, Brazil and South Africa funded UNITA, providing munitions, intelligence reports, and mercenaries.

Heavy fighting continued until 1991 when a temporary agreement known as the Bicesse Accords was reached.  Calling for an immediate ceasefire and the removal of both Cuban and South African troops, the agreement mandated a new national government and army, along with Angola’s first multi-party elections.  A year later, MPLA candidate José dos Santos won 49% of the popular vote in the election compared to 40% for UNITA candidate Dr. Jonas Savimbi.  When Savimbi disputed the outcome, UNITA resumed guerilla war against the MPLA.

In 1993 the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 864 placing

1822 - Monrovia, Liberia (1821- )

Monrovia is the capital of Liberia as well as its largest city. It is located on Bushrod Island and Cape Mesurado along the Mesurado River. A 2008 census showed its population as 970,824.

Monrovia was founded on April 25, 1822 by members of the American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization created to return U.S.-born former slaves to Africa.  ACS representatives first arrived on the Mesurado River in 1821. The original name of Monrovia was Christopolis. In 1824 it was renamed “Monrovia” after James Monroe, who was the American President at the time as well as a supporter of the American Colonization Society. The indigenous populations of the areas surrounding Monrovia felt that the city was built on stolen land and began attacking it as early as 1822. Those attacks continued sporadically until the mid-nineteenth century.

Monrovia’s first settlers were former Southern slaves. Not surprisingly the early architecture of the city was largely influenced by the style of the Southern antebellum buildings.

Monrovia grew slowly during the rest of the 19th Century.  After the Civil War the American Colonization Society was taken over by emigrationists such as Edward Wilmot Blyden and Bishop Alexander Crummell. They urged post-Civil War African Americans to settle there and many of them did until World War I. These Americo-Liberians, both those in the initial wave of settlement in the 1822-1848 period (Liberia became independent that year), and those who came after the U.S. Civil War, politically and culturally dominated the city.

After World War II growing numbers of indigenous people from the interior of Liberia began migrating to the capital to exploit new job opportunities. Always present in the city back to its founding, by 1950 for the first time, they were the majority of the city’s residents.   

In 1980 Sergeant Samuel Doe of the Liberian Army led a coup which toppled the existing government.  For the first time in its history Liberia was controlled by indigenous people rather than Americo-Liberians. Doe

1918 - Muhammed Said Abdulla

Muhammed Said Abdulla , (born April 25, 1918, Makunduchi, Zanzibar [now in Tanzania]—died 1991), Tanzanian novelist generally regarded as the father of Swahili popular literature.

Abdulla, after completing his formal education in 1938, began his career as an inspector in the Public Health Department. After 10 years there, however, he decided to become a journalist. In 1948 he was made editor of the newspaper Zanzibari, and during the next decade he also served as assistant editor of Al Falaq, Al Mahda, and Afrika Kwetu. In 1958 he became editor of Mkulima, the national agricultural magazine, where he served until his retirement in 1968.

Coinciding with his shift to Mkulima was Abdulla’s first success as a writer of fiction. His Mzimu wa Watu wa Kale (“Shrine of the Ancestors”) won first prize in the Swahili Story-Writing Competition of 1957–58, conducted by the East African Literature Bureau, and was published as a novel in 1966. In this work, Abdulla introduced his detective hero, Bwana Msa—loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes—and other characters who recur in most of his subsequent novels, which include Kisima cha Giningi (1968; “The Well of Giningi”), also a prizewinner; Duniani Kuna Watu (1973; “In the World There Are People”); Siri ya Sifuri (1974; “The Secret of the Zero”); Mke Mmoja Waume Watatu (1975; “One Wife, Three Husbands”); and Mwana wa Yungi Hulewa (1976; “The Devil’s Child Grows Up”).

With each new title, Abdulla’s work developed in complexity and sophistication of plot. His use of the Swahili language was admired throughout East Africa, and his works—reprinted several times—were widely used as school texts. The novels characteristically pit the hero’s powers of reason against a web of ignorance and superstition that serves to conceal the true nature of the narrative conflict.

The life of MLK - Animated

1917 - Fitzgerald, Ella (1917-1996)

Ella Fitzgerald was a female jazz singer considered without equal at the height of the jazz era.  Her voice had an amazing and vibrant range that allowed her to sing nearly every jazz style.  Ella was also an accomplished composer and bandleader who performed into the 1990s.

Born in Newport News, Virginia on April 25, 1917, Ella  grew up in Yonkers, New York in poverty.  She developed a love of music from a young age and at 17 won an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater in Harlem with her rendition of “Judy” that earning her a week’s engagement at the prestigious entertainment venue.  Additionally she was noticed by jazz drummer Chick Webb.

Ella Fitzgerald immediately joined Webb’s band and started performing at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom.  Her first national hit in 1938 was “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” a jazz version of the nursery rhyme.  After Webb’s death in 1939, Fitzgerald led the band for the next three years, a testament to her leadership and talent.  In the 1940s Ella had developed a mastery of scatting, bop, and ballad.  Her style was not as emotional as rival Billie Holiday’s, but she infused a vibrance and excitement into her music.  Among her hits at the height of her popularity were “Lady Be Good,” “How High the Moon,” “Flying Home,” “Undecided,” and a collection of “Songbooks” with compositions from Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and others.

In 1943 Ella Fitzgerald became the youngest member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.  She wrote several hits during the 1940s including “You Showed Me the Way,” recorded by Billie Holiday, and “Oh, but I Do,” recorded by Nat King Cole.

Ella Fitzgerald continued to perform into the 1980s.  In 1991 she won her 13th Grammy award for “All That Jazz” and in was inducted into the National Woman’s Hall of Fame.  Over the course of her career, Fitzgerald won thirteen Grammies, sold over 40 million records, performed for 58 years, and elevated jazz singing to new heights.  She died in Beverly Hills, California in 1996.

1918 - Ella Fitzgerald Born

Ella Fitzgerald, "First Lady of Song," born. In 1934, an awkward sixteen-year-old girl made her singing debut at the Harlem Apollo Theatre amateur night in New York City. She intended to dance, but she lost her nerve when she got on stage. "The man said, "do something while you"re out there, "the singer later recalled. "So I tried to sing "Object of My Affection" and "Judy," and I won first prize." She drew the attention of the bandleader Chick Webb. After personally coaching the shy performer, Webb introduced her at the Savoy Theatre one evening as his orchestra"s singer *. That evening marked the beginning of Ella Jane Fitzgerald"s singing career. One of the great compliments paid to Ella was from Ira Gershwin who said "I didn"t realize our songs were so good until Ella sang them". Ella"s life was marked both by extreme highs and lows. Born in Newport News, Virginia in 1917 and orphaned at the age of 15, Ella was placed in the Colored Orphan Asylum in Riverdale, one of the few orphanages at the time that accepted Afro-American children. From there, she was transferred to the New York State Training School for Girls, a reformatory at which State investigations later revealed widespread physical abuse. Having escaped from the reformatory, Ella was literally living in the streets of Harlem when she was discovered by Webb. She was married twice, first at the age of 24 to a shady character by the name of Benjamin Kornegay, and then again to bass player Ray Brown at the age of 30. Both marriages ended in divorce. A diabetic for many years, the disease compromised her vision as well as her circulatory system before taking her life. In 1992, both of her legs were amputated below the knee due to diabetes related circulatory problems. As an artist, however, Ella achieved legendary success in a career that spanned six decades, yielded recordings numbering into the thousands, and earned the singer countless awards including a Kennedy Center Award for her contributions to the performing arts, honorary doctorate degrees

1944 - United Negro College Fund

The United Negro College Fund, or UNCF, is an American philanthropic organization that funds scholarships for black students and general scholarship funds for 37 private historically black colleges and universities. UNCF was incorporated on April 25, 1944 by Frederick D. Patterson (then president of what is now Tuskegee University), Mary McLeod Bethune, and others. UNCF is headquartered at 1805 7th Street, NW in Washington, D.C.[1] In 2005, UNCF supported approximately 65,000 students at over 900 colleges and universities with approximately $113 million in grants and scholarships. About 60% of these students are the first in their families to attend college, and 62% have annual family incomes of less than $25,000. UNCF also administers over 450 named scholarships.

UNCF"s president and chief executive officer is Michael Lomax. Past presidents of the UNCF included William H. Gray and Vernon Jordan.

Though founded to address funding inequities in education resources for African Americans, UNCF-administered scholarships are open to all ethnicities; the great majority of recipients are still African-American. It provides scholarships to students attending its member colleges as well as to those going elsewhere.[2]

Graduates of UNCF member institutions and scholarships have included many blacks in the fields of business, politics, health care and the arts. Some prominent UNCF alumni include Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and leader in the Civil Rights Movement; Alexis Herman, former U.S. Secretary of Labor; noted movie director Spike Lee; actor Samuel L. Jackson; General Chappie James, the U.S. Air Force’s first black four-star general; and Dr. David Satcher, a former U.S. Surgeon General and director of the Centers for Disease Control.[3]

In 1944 William J. Trent, a long time activist for education for blacks, joined with Tuskegee Institute President Frederick D. Patterson and Mary McLeod Bethune to found the UNCF, a nonprofit that united college presidents to raise money collectively

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