African American Events

With the rigors and injustices of America’s era of slavery fading into the nation’s collective past, African American culture is flourishing and influencing Americans of all races.

One major influence in the list of African American events enjoyed by the nation as a whole is Black History Month.  The month of February is now established as a time to honor black Americans for their contributions to our nation and society.

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass both had birthdays in February.  And they were both highly valued leaders in the country’s fight to end slavery.  It is in their honor that February was first proposed to honor the black American peoples.

January is also an important month for African American events.  Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15 and his birthday is celebrated on a national level on the third Monday of every January.  His birthday is one of only three American national holidays that commemorates an individual person.

Kwanzaa was invented in 1966 as a winter holiday that provides a moral and ethical balance to the obscenely commercialized Christmas season.  African American activist and scholar “Maulana” Ron Karenga borrowed from African harvest rituals to develop a week-long holiday that stresses the importance of family and community.

On each day of the celebration, a different aspect of a healthy community is honored – unity, self determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.  Kwanzaa is celebrated each year from December 26 through January 1.

Emancipation Day celebrations take places on various days across the nation although they all celebrate the January 1, 1865, declaration of the Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery in the United States.  Without today’s instant telecommunications capabilities, news of freedom was spread by union soldiers as they moved through the South bringing order after the Civil War.

Emancipation Day is celebrated on the day the news arrived in a given locale.  In Texas, Juneteenth festivities are enjoyed by all on June 19.  Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, both have official holidays on Emancipation Day, too.  Puerto Rico celebrates on March 22 and Washington, DC, celebrates on April 16.

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