45 years ago today, The Bahamas became a fully independent nation after 344 years of colonial British rule. The archipelago consists of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets in the Atlantic Ocean, and is located north of Cuba and southeast of Florida.

With Nassau its capital and a distinctive black, gold and aquamarine flag, the country still retains an allegiance to the British Queen as its head of state and is the third richest country in the Americas (following the United States and Canada), with an economy based on tourism and finance.

Long before Britain’s House of Lords voted to bestow independence to the Bahamas, slavery there had been abolished. After the ban in 1834, the Bahamas became a haven for freed African slaves. The Royal Navy resettled Africans there who were liberated from illegal slave ships and other ships that reached the islands due to weather…. Why is the water so blue? See below (1973)

Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image, acquired on January 24, 2004, by NASA’s Terra satellite.

Underwater features are actually more striking than surface features in this NASA satellite photo. Several famous ‘Banks’ in the Bahamas, which are shallow coral reefs that reflect light through the ocean, show up as bright blue. The ocean becomes suddenly deep on the western edge of the Grand Bahama Bank, and beyond the Little Bahama Bank, where it becomes an inky black. Coral reefs are also visible around the Florida Keys and in the Golfo de Batabanuth of Cuba. Near land, sediment may also be coloring the water. Like coral reefs, sediment reflects light through the water, giving it a bright color. Learn more about how they were formed, here, and enjoy another great photo.

MORE Good News on this Day:

  • Today is Tesla Day, in celebration of the Serbian-born inventor, physicist, engineer, and futurist, Nikola Tesla, who was born on this day and whose theories and work on the use of electricity, wireless broadcast, and alternating current (AC) is today renown (1856–1943)
  • Armistice talks aimed at ending the Korean conflict began at Kaesong (1951)
  • Coca-Cola bowed to consumer pressure against New Coke and canceled it (1985)
  • The first elected President of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, began his 5-year term (1991)
  • The South African cricket team was readmitted into the International Cricket Council following the end of Apartheid (1991)
  • Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was freed after nearly six years of house arrest in Yangon, Myanmar (1995)

And, on this day in 1875, Mary McLeod Bethune was born to former slaves in South Carolina. She realized as a child, the importance of learning to read and set her sights on becoming a teacher for her family and other black children.Daytona_School_with_Mary-Mcleod-Bethune

In her 20s, she rented a small house, constructed benches and desks from discarded crates, made ink from elderberries, and opened a rigorous training school for girls in Daytona, Florida. Bethune also courted wealthy white benefactors like John D. Rockefeller to grow her school. In 1931, it became the Bethune-Cookman College. Later, Bethune became a close adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt and the only black woman present at the founding of the UN.

So numerous were her awards, accolades and accomplishments that she has been called one of America’s greatest women, with “one of the most dramatic careers ever enacted at any time upon the stage of human activity.” Mary_McLeod_Bethune_portrait-pubdomain

Bethune wrote later about opening her schoolroom with just $1.50, “I considered cash money as the smallest part of my resources. I had faith in a loving God, faith in myself, and a desire to serve.” She died in 1955.

Her 1904 Curriculum of the Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls: Bethune had the girls rise at 5:30 a.m. for Bible Study. The classes in home economics and industrial skills such as dressmaking, millinery, cooking, and other crafts emphasized a life of self-sufficiency for them as women. Students’ days ended at 9 pm. Soon Bethune added science and business courses, then high school-level courses of math, English, and foreign languages. – CHECK out these Mary McLeod Bethune books.