January 2023

Poverty Awareness Month, MLK Day, the Sundance Film Festival, and more.

During January

January is Poverty Awareness Month, when the Catholic community urges Americans to “take up Pope Francis’ challenge to live in solidarity with the poor.” Use this month to discuss poverty with your audiences and cite the values of community and economic opportunity.

January 1

On this day in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation took effect. The Zinn Education Project notes that few textbooks credit the real anti-slavery heroes in this story: the enslaved themselves, along with their Black and white abolitionist allies. You can also make the connection to attacks on Critical Race Theory and the importance of being honest about our nation’s history. Cite the values of voice, equity, and economic opportunity.

On Jan. 1, 2009, Oscar Grant III was fatally shot by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police in Oakland, California. On the 13-year anniversary of Grant’s death, ending police brutality and re-defining community safety continue to ground advocacy to move beyond policing. Cite the values of community, voice, and equity when recognizing this anniversary.

January 5

The struggle for desegregated schools is often seen as an East Coast issue. On Jan. 5, 1931, however, the principal of the Lemon Grove Grammar School refused to admit Mexican-American and migrant children. The resulting legal case, Roberto Alvarez vs. the Board of Trustees of the Lemon Grove School District, became the first successful school desegregation court decision in the history of the United States. Cite the values of voice, equity, and community.

January 6

On this day in 2021, a violent mob agitated by disinformation — including the words of the president and some congressional members — attacked the U.S. Capitol building to undermine a democratic election. As we look back at the deadly events of this date, it’s important to remind audiences of our long-term vision moving forward. Uplift the voices of BIPOC leaders and celebrate the resilience of communities who continue to turn out to vote each election despite widespread voter suppression and threats of White Supremacist violence. Emphasize the values of voice, safety, and community.

On this day in 1891, folklorist, anthropologist, and author Zora Neale Hurston was born. Hurston is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. In her work for the Works Project Administration (WPA), she also documented songs and life histories of interesting, everyday people, including labor conditions. Discuss Hurston’s birthday by citing the values of voice, equity, and community.

January 8

On this day in 1964, President Lyndon Johnson announced “The War on Poverty” during his State of the Union address. The legislation that he introduced would create Food Stamps, Medicaid and Medicare, and other anti-poverty programs. Use this anniversary to talk about the successes of these programs and why they are even more urgent today. Cite the values of economic opportunity and community.

On this day in 1811, 500 enslaved Africans, representing 50 different nations with 50 different languages, revolted and fought against U.S. troops and militias not just for their own emancipation, but to end slavery. The ultimate goal of the “German Coast Uprising” (as it came to be known) was to create an independent Black republic with New Orleans as its capital. Artist Dread Scott organized a Slave Rebellion Reenactment as a profound “what if?” story for freedom.

January 11

Human Trafficking Awareness Day is an opportunity to draw more attention to forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking affecting thousands of men, women, and children in the U.S. and around the world. Refer to the values of safety and economic opportunity when discussing human trafficking.

January 16

Today we celebrate the birthday and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This federal holiday is a great opportunity to talk about the ongoing struggle for racial justice in the United States by citing the values of equity, community, economic opportunity, and safety.

On this day in 1919, Prohibition was legalized with the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Today, we view this period as a wasteful, punitive, and ill-conceived intrusion on the lives of Americans. This era is often noted in conversations about the need for criminal justice reform and more humane drug policies that center equity and emphasize harm reduction. Use this anniversary to discuss how far our nation has come in upholding the values of safety, equity, and economic opportunity.

January 17

On this day in 1893, U.S. Marines overthrew the independent indigenous kingdom of Hawai`i and subsequently arrested Queen Lili`uokalani. American business leaders and the children of missionaries wanted the islands to be annexed by the United States. Pres. William McKinley authorized the annexation five years later. It’s important to discuss this anniversary as part of the United States’ larger history of violating Indigenous peoples’ rights. Cite the values of voice, economic opportunity, and community.

Today is also the National Day of Racial Healing, an opportunity for people, organizations, and communities across the United States to “forge deep, meaningful relationships, lay the groundwork to transform broken systems” and create change. Visit W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s dedicated event website for conversation guides and toolkits tailored to students, philanthropy, business leaders, and more. Cite the values of community, equity, and economic opportunity on this day.

January 19

Today the Sundance Film Festival begins (virtually and through select in-person locations throughout the country), where many new documentaries and films focused on social justice issues will premiere. These films can have a remarkable influence on social narratives about immigration, poverty, and criminal justice. Amidst all the buzz, be sure to refer to the values of voice.

January 22

On this day in 1973, the Supreme Court upheld the “right to privacy” in the case of Roe v. Wade, protecting a pregnant person’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Nearly 50 years later, the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization upended this right and threatens reproductive justice in communities nationwide. When talking about this anniversary, cite the values of economic opportunity and equity.

January 23

Today is the birthday of Edward Verne Roberts, who was a pioneering advocate for people with disabilities. Many consider him the “father of independent living.”  Use the anniversary to discuss how public benefits help people living with disabilities. Use the values of equity and economic opportunity.

January 25

On this day in 2019, the Trump administration announced implementation of the “Migrant Protection Protocols” (better known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy) for asylum-seekers arriving at the U.S./Mexico border. In the early years of the Biden administration, the United States reached an agreement with Mexico to restart the program and continued to employ the controversial Title 42 law to rapidly expel people seeking asylum at our border. Combined, these practices offend our legal and moral obligations to protect human rights by providing safe, effective processes for people to seek protection before immigration judges. Cite the values of voice, equity, and safety on this date.

January 26

On this day in 1944, civil rights activist, writer, and professor Angela Davis was born. In 1970, the FBI added her to their Ten Most Wanted List based on false charges. After being jailed, she was eventually freed after a national campaign demanded her release. Davis is an outspoken critic of the racial injustice within the criminal court system.

January 27

Today is the anniversary of President Trump’s “Muslim Ban” executive order which barred the entry of nationals and refugees from 11 Muslim-majority nations. The Supreme Court later upheld a similar, updated ban. The Biden administration rescinded the policy as one of its first executive actions following the inauguration, but the date reminds us of our ongoing work to counter xenophobia and replace it with policies and narratives to welcome immigrants and refugees. When discussing this anniversary, cite the values of voice, community, and safety.

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