Recognizing and Celebrating Diversity
Below are some dates specific to celebrating, recognizing and understanding the history and challenges still faced by different communities.
December 26 – January 1 Kwanzaa
- Kwanzaa begins on December 26th and ends on January 1st.
- Dr. Maulana Karenga, chairman and professor of Black Studies at California State University, created Kwanzaa in 1966 with the purpose of bringing African-American communities together.
- The word Kwanzaa means "first fruits" in Swahili, a language used in Africa, and has to do with harvest.
- Kwanzaa takes place over 7 nights.
January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday that takes place annually on the third Monday in January.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. was an activist and minister whose accomplishments have continued to inspire generations of Americans.
- King was the first modern private citizen to be honored with a federal holiday, and many are very familiar with his non-violent leadership of the civil rights movement.
February 1 - February 29 Black History Month
- This month celebrates the achievements of African Americans and recognizes the integral role that African Americans played in the history of the United States.
- Frustrated with being underrepresented in history, Carter G Woodson, noted historian, set the foundation for Black History Month by first creating "Negro History Week" in 1925.
- Black History Month was decreed a national observance in 1976, and every U.S. president has celebrated and observed it since.
February 1 - National Freedom Day
- This day commemorates the day that Abraham Lincoln, who was the nation's president at the time, signed a joint resolution that proposed the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution.
- President Lincoln signed the Amendment outlawing slavery on February 1, 1865, although it was not ratified by the states until later.
- Major Richard Robert Wright Sr., a former slave, believed that there should be a day when freedom for all Americans is celebrated.
- Major Wright Sr. then founded the National Freedom Day Association, and played a crucial role in creating the observance.
February 15 - Susan B. Anthony Day
- This day celebrates the birth of Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) and women's suffrage in the United States.
- Susan Brownell Anthony became one of the most visible leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. Along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, she traveled around the country delivering speeches in favor of women's suffrage.
- When Congress passed the 14th and 15th amendments which gave voting rights to African American men, they formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, to push for a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote as well.
February 20 - World Day Of Social Justice
- An international day recognizing the need to promote social justice, and tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion, gender equality, unemployment, human rights, and social protections.
- The UN General Assembly declared this an annual celebration on November 26th, 2007.
March 1 – March 31 National Women's History Month
- This month honors women and their significant roles and contributions in society.
- After realizing that women's history was virtually an unknown topic in schools, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated a “Women’s History Week” celebration for 1978.
- In February 1980, President Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.
March 8 - International Women's Day
- This specific day celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women around the world.
- The first official National Woman’s Day, organized by the Socialist Party of America, was held in New York City on February 28, 1909.
- In 1975, recognized as International Women's Year, the United Nations General Assembly began celebrating March 8 as International Women's Day.
March 21 - International Day For The Elimination Of Racial Discrimination
- On this day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa, against the apartheid pass laws.
In 1979, the General Assembly decided that a week of solidarity with the peoples struggling against racism and racial discrimination, beginning on March 21st, would be organized annually in all States.
Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled.
April 23 - Day Of Silence
- GLSEN's Day of Silence is a student-led national protest. A vow of silence is taken to highlight the silencing and erasure of LGBTQ+ people at school.
- This day is for spreading awareness about the effects of the bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning students.
May 21- World Day For Cultural Diversity
- In 2001, UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.
- In December 2002, the UN General Assembly, declared May 21st as the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
- The purpose of this day is to deepen understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to advance the four goals of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted on 20 October 2005.
June 1 – June 30 LGBTQ+ Pride Month
- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan.
- The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.
June 19 - Juneteenth
- Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed.
- Juneteenth honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.
July 26 - Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Day
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.
- Throughout the year and on the ADA Anniversary, the ADA National Network recognizes this landmark event and the important work to promote equal opportunity for people with disabilities.
August 12 - International Youth Day
- In 1999, the General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that August 12th be declared International Youth Day.
- International Youth Day (IYD) gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.
August 26 - Women's Equality Day
- Passed in 1973, the U.S. Congress designated August 26th as “Women’s Equality Day.”
- This day commemorates the 1920 adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibiting the states and federal government from denying the right to vote to citizens of the United States on the basis of sex.
- National Hispanic Heritage Month is a national observance that takes place from September 15 to October 15 in the U.S.
- This day celebrates and recognizes the achievements, history, and culture of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
October 1 – October 31 LGBTQ+ History Month
- Founded in 1994 by Rodney Wilson, a Missouri high-school history teacher, this month is dedicated to the celebration and teaching of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history.
October 1 – October 31 National Disability Employment
- National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national observance with the purpose of raising awareness about disability employment issues.
- This day is also a celebration of the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.
October 15 - Last day of Hispanic Heritage Month
November 1 – November 30 National American Indian Heritage Month
- This month celebrates the culture and heritage of Native Americans Americans who have made many significant contributions and deeply enriched the quality and character of the Nation.
- Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, was one of the first proponents of a day of recognition for Native Americans.
November 11 - Veteran's Day
- Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the U.S. for honoring military veterans, which are, persons who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
- This historical day also marked the end of WWI or "The Great War" and now celebrates and honors America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
November 15 - November 19 American Education Week
- American Education Week presents everyone with an opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who work in public schools and are making a difference in ensuring that every student receives a quality education.
November 16 - International Day for Tolerance
- The International Day for Tolerance is an annual observance day declared by UNESCO in 1995 to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance.
- The purpose of this day is to foster mutual understanding among cultures and to counter influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others
November 20 - Transgender Day of Rememberance
- Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) is an annual observance that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence
- This observance started in 1999 by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998.
December 1 - World Aids Day
- Since 1988, this international day of obsevance has been dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.
- World AIDS Day is the first ever global health day.
December 3 - International Day of Persons With Disabilities
- The International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is an annual observance to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development, and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
December 10 - Human Rights Day
- On this historical day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
- The UDHR is a milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being - regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.