In 1975, there was a huge controversy in the Los Angeles Unified School District when many Black parents kept their children out of school as an observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
The problem: MLK Day wasn’t yet recognized as a national holiday. It took a vote years later with the state of Arizona being last to officially recognize it, over the vote of the late Sen. John McCain. He later admitted that he wishes he could’ve done that vote over, but at the time, he said it wasn’t about Martin Luther King Jr., but the paid holiday.
The larger point being that Black community members haven’t waited for permission from anyone to recognize days within the calendar year as reverence for its heroes. Below are days and months that many in the Black community hold near and dear to their hearts.
Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
February, Ancestor Appreciation Month, where ancestors are honored who made the great trek in the bottom of slaves ships, who helped build this country with their free labor into the economic powerhouse that it is today.
March 31, Queen Hathshepsut Day, in honor of the first female Pharaoh of Kamit (Egypt). Long before there was a United States, this Black woman lead one of the greatest empire in the history of the world.
April 20, Nelson Mandela Day, in honor of the South African freedom fighter, who served 27 years in prison and became the leader of his nation post-apartheid.
May 19, Malcolm X Day celebrates the life and legacy of Al’Hajj Malik Al’Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X, the great orator of the plight of the Black experience and his own personal journey, leaving the religion of Christianity, going into the Nation of Islam, and finally returning to the religion of Al’Islaam.
June 19, Juneteenth honors slaves who were the last to discover that they had been freed through the Emancipation Proclamation two and half years after its signing.
July 14, Harriet Tubman Day honors the woman who risked her life to free slaves from the South and fought in the Civil War against the South.
August, called Black August. This month honors all Black men and women who have fought for freedom, justice and equality from inside of prison walls, across the nation and around the world. Many during this month also observe fasting.
Sept. 11, Marcus Garvey Day celebrates his contributions to the Black experience.
Oct. 22, Queen Nzinga Day. One of the great leaders from Western Africa who fought off many Europeans and Africans who tried to intrude into her kingdom.
November is “Prophets’ Appreciation Month.” During November, we honor all great men and women who came forth throughout history, who brought a message of Love, Honor and Respect for all and our Creator. The prophets reminded us of our connect to one another, rather than seeking to divide us from each other through religion, hate, racism, bigotry and other man made constructs.
December 26-31, we celebrate “Kwanzaa,” the six days where we reconnect through the six principles, rooted in unity and love, and we give gifts that have been hand- made or created by the person so that there is a personal connection.