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Black Facts for July 19th

1950 - Hastie, William Henry (1904-1976)

WilliamHenry Hastie, attorney and diplomat, was born on November 17, 1904 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  He spent his childhood in Tennessee until hisfamily moved to Washington, D.C.   Hastie graduated from Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. in 1921 and four years laterreceived his A.B. Degree from Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Following graduation Hastie was offered fellowships for graduate work at OxfordUniversity and the University of Paris. Hastie decided instead to accept a job at New Jersey’s Bordentown ManualSchool where he was on the faculty until 1927, when he entered HarvardUniversity Law School.

In 1930 Hastie received his LL.B. degree from Harvard University.  Shortly afterwards he became a member of the Howard University School of Lawfaculty.  Hastie was also admitted to theDistrict of Columbia Bar in 1931 and practiced law with his cousin Charles Hamilton Houston who laterbecame Dean of the Howard University Law School.  Hastie returned to Harvard in 1933 to receivehis J.D. degree.

In 1933 William Henry Hastie became one of the first African American membersof the Franklin Roosevelt Administration. He was appointed the President’s race relations advisor.  Later he was given the post of assistantsolicitor for the Department of Interior. While working for the Department he wrote a constitution for the VirginIslands, an American territory.

In March 1937, Hastie was appointed judge of the Federal District Court in theVirgin Islands by President Roosevelt, becoming the nation’s first AfricanAmerican Federal judge.  Hastie servedfor two years, and then he resigned in 1939 to become Dean and Professor of Lawat Howard University School of Law.

During his time as Dean, Hastie also served as Civilian Aid to Secretary of WarHenry L. Stimson from 1940 to 1942.  Hastieurged the racial integration of troops. In 1942 he resigned in protest because the Army Air Force decided tocreate a separate training facility for African Americans, and returned to hisduties at Howard University School of Law. Ironically

1982 - Okot p’Bitek

Okot p’Bitek , (born 1931, Gulu, Uganda—died July 19, 1982, Kampala), Ugandan poet, novelist, and social anthropologist whose three verse collections—Song of Lawino (1966), Song of Ocol (1970), and Two Songs (1971)—are considered to be among the best African poetry in print.

As a youth p’Bitek had varied interests; he published a novel in the Acholi language (later published in English as White Teeth [1989]), wrote an opera, and played on Uganda’s football (soccer) team. He was educated at the University of Bristol in England (certificate in education), University College of Wales at Aberystwyth (bachelor of law), and the Institute of Social Anthropology at Oxford (degree in social anthropology). From 1964 to 1966 he taught at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

His first collection of poetry, Song of Lawino, addresses the issue of the conflict of cultures. It is the lament of a nonliterate woman over the strange ways of her university-educated husband, whose new ways are incompatible with traditional African concepts of manhood. This book p’Bitek followed with Song of Ocol, which is the husband’s response. A third volume, Two Songs, includes Song of a Prisoner and Song of Malaya.

After serving as director of Uganda’s National Theatre and National Cultural Centre (1966–68), p’Bitek accepted a position as senior research fellow and lecturer at University College, Nairobi, Kenya (1971–78). He was also a visiting lecturer or writer in residence at several universities. From 1978 to 1982 he taught at the University of Ife in Nigeria.

In addition to writing poetry, p’Bitek produced several books on Acholi culture. Some of his essays are collected in Africa’s Cultural Revolution (1975). The Horn of My Love (1974) contains Acholi poetry in both Acholi and English, and Hare and Hornbill (1978) is a collection of Acholi folktales that p’Bitek compiled and translated.

1959 - (1959) Nnamdi Azikiwe Addresses the NAACP Convention on the Organization's 50th Anniversary

Nnamdi Azikiwe, by now the best know nationalist leader in Nigeria, addressed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) at its 50th anniversary celebration at the Polo Grounds, New York City, July 19, 1959. His speech appears below.

I am greatly indebted to the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People for the invitation to speak on this occasion of the celebration of its fiftieth anniversary. For five decades, this organization has been in the vanguard of the struggle for human freedom in America. Its objective has been the attainment of equal rights for people of African descent and other peoples of colour who are citizens of this great bastion of democracy.

In the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln, this country was conceived in liberty of the individual and it was dedicated to the idea that democracy as a way of life can only be meaningful not only to its inhabitants but to the rest of the world if all facets of its society respect human dignity in the noble attempt to create equality of opportunity for all.

For 183 years, the people of the United States have been involved in a historic experiment to determine whether democracy can survive as an ideology which places a high premium on the value of the individual in a society which is heterogeneous. Throughout this period, this great country has been the cynosure of the world. Every little mistake in human relations has been magnified out of its proportions. Every error of judgement in the relations of the races has been critically analysed. And every act of injustice based on such extraneous factors as race, colour, creed or station in life has been subjected to the most severe strictures.

Such a negative attitude has not been due to any inveterate hatred of the United States per se (although we must admit that those with axes to grind cannot but make capital out of such slips), but the main reason is the universal respect which the world has for this country. Because of this high esteem, the outside world expects

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