March 2023

Women’s History Month, The Academy Awards, and Transgender Day of Visibility

During March

Women have long led the struggle for equal rights across movements — from voting to LGBTQ+ equality. And yet, women continue to bear unequal burdens, with women of color being hit particularly hard by economic, public health, and other inequities. As you celebrate Women’s History Month, emphasize the vital role that women have played in the struggle for racial justice, economic opportunity, and inclusive democracy. Cite the values of equity and voice.

It’s also National Professional Social Work Month, when social workers and their supporters educate the public about the invaluable contributions of the profession. Organized by The National Association of Social Workers, this annual observance celebrates the work of social workers amidst the converging crises of systemic racism, economic inequality, and global warming. Use this hook to discuss the values of community and economic opportunity.

March 1

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was created on this day in 2002. Despite the mountain of evidence documenting the agency’s disregard for human life and cruel practices, Congress and the White House continue funding an agency that has deported millions of people and separated thousands of families. Cite the values of safety, equity, and economic opportunity.

On this day in 1968, the East Los Angeles student walkouts protested the quality of their education and showed support for the civil rights of Mexican Americans. The protest was the first of many and inspired later protests that used similar tactics. To talk about this anniversary, use the values of voice and equity.

March 2

On March 2, 1955 (nine months before Rosa Parks’ act of civil disobedience), 15-year-old Claudette Colvin was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. She became one of four plaintiffs in Browder v. Gayle, which ruled that Montgomery’s segregated bus system was unconstitutional. When discussing this anniversary, cite the values of equity and voice, as well as the importance of youth voices in social justice activism.

March 3

On this day in 1991, officers with the Los Angeles Police Department were captured on camera beating Rodney King during a traffic stop. This anniversary offers the opportunity to remind audiences of the long trajectory of police accountability movements. When commemorating this date, uplift the need to go beyond policing to prioritize solutions grounded in community safety that ends over-policing in communities affected by poverty. Cite the values of community, safety, and equity.

National Day of Unplugging starts on the first Friday of March. People around the globe are invited to take a 24-hour respite from technology. The event “highlights the value of disconnecting from digital devices to connect with ourselves, our loved ones and our communities in real-time.” Cite the value of community when talking about this day.

  • Resources: Visit the National Day of Unplugging’s website for a full list of sample activities and their signature smartphone nap-sack.
  • Hashtag: #NationalDayOfUnplugging

March 4

The Film Independent Spirit Awards will air on Saturday, March 4 at 5:00 pm ET on Film Independent’s YouTube channel. The annual celebration uplifts the best independent film and television programming of the year. Visit Film Independent’s website to see the full list of nominees and find more information on how to watch this year’s show.

March 7

The first march from Selma to Montgomery for voting rights in Alabama took place on this day in 1965. Use this anniversary to talk about the renewed urgency to protect voting rights and fight racial injustice. Cite the values of equity and voice.

March 8

Today is International Women’s Day. Use this event to discuss the importance of intersectionality and the need for both equity and inclusivity to guide collective action towards gender justice. Cite the values of voice, equity, and economic opportunity.

March 10

Today is Abortion Provider Appreciation Day to recognize staff who work every day to ensure that patients have access to the full range of reproductive health care options — including safe and legal abortion. Use this day to talk about the intersectional issues of reproductive justice and economic opportunity. Cite the values of voice, equity, and community.

This year, the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference and festival runs from March 10 – 19. Founded in 1987, SXSW has become one of the go-to annual events for people working at the intersection of cultural strategies, civic engagement, music, and film. Visit the festival website to learn more about this year’s programming and registration information.

March 12

The 95th Oscars awards ceremony airs live on ABC today, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT. In recent years, the Oscars have drawn criticism for how nominations embody the failure to celebrate and uplift BIPOC creators’ work in Hollywood. Visit the Academy’s website to learn more about this year’s nominations.

On March 12, 1912, the Bread and Roses strikers in Lawrence, MA successfully won their demands. The Zinn Education Project notes, “This was an historic strike that united workers across many traditional barriers including language, nationality, gender, and age.” Cite this anniversary and cite the values of economic opportunity and community.

March 14

On this day in 1990, at least 16 activists were arrested in Washington, D.C. during a protest where people were demanding that the federal government pass the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Discuss this anniversary and current activism by citing the values of voice and equity.

The March Madness college basketball tournaments begin this week. Both the men’s and women’s tournaments continue through the end of March, culminating with the NCAA Women’s and Men’s National Championship games. In recent years, the inequitable facilities and promotion of the two tournaments have drawn criticism. Both men and women athletes have also benefited in recent years from the reversal of prohibitions on financial compensation, with collegiate athletes now able to sign name, image, and likeness endorsements. Cite the values of voice and equity when talking in support of paying student-athletes.

March 15

On this day in 2021, Deb Haaland became the first Native American Cabinet Secretary, following the U.S. Senate’s vote to confirm her nomination to head the Department of the Interior. In 2018, Secretary Haaland joined Rep. Sharice Davids in becoming the first Native American women elected to the U.S. Congress. Secretary Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and identifies as a 35th generation New Mexican. Cite the values of voice and equity when celebrating her leadership.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was also born on this day in 1933. Before becoming the second woman on the Supreme Court, the late Justice had a long legal career as an advocate for gender equality and women’s rights. As a cultural icon, her impact transcended courts. When discussing her legacy, it’s also important to note her mixed judicial record on issues of race and criminal justice, with particularly damaging decisions for indigenous rights. Cite the values of economic opportunity and voice.

March 16

Today is the anniversary of the Atlanta spa shootings. The 2021 attack on three spas killed eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent, and took place during a year marked by an increase in anti-Asian attacks across the country. When remembering this date, acknowledge how the intersectionality of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia has historically resulted in violence against Asian American women. And follow the lead of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) groups to center the voices countering anti-Asian racism in ways that align with Asian cultural practices.

March 17

Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin was born on this day in 1912. As a gay black man who helped plan the 1963 March on Washington, Rustin’s life illustrates the reality of intersectional struggles. In February 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom posthumously pardoned Rustin for a 1953 conviction under laws that targeted LGBTQ people. Cite the values of equity and voice when talking about Rustin’s life.

March 18

Public Defense Day commemorates the Supreme Court’s 1963 ruling that states must provide free legal counsel for people living in poverty. The case, Gideon v. Wainwright, was spurred by Clarence Earl Gideon who was charged with a felony in Florida state court and denied a court-appointed lawyer. The Supreme Court’s decision extended the right to counsel to state courts across the country. Discuss the importance of public defense by referring to the values of voice and equity.

March 19

On this day in 1917, the Supreme Court upheld the Eight Hour Act, the first federal law regulating the work hours of private companies. The law was passed by Congress after nationwide industrial strikes. Unions have also been instrumental in fighting for worker rights but fair scheduling and overtime are still issues for many Americans. Discuss this anniversary citing the values of community and economic opportunity.

March 20

The United Nations declared today the International Day of Happiness. It’s meant to recognize that ending poverty, reducing inequality, and protecting our planet are three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness. According to the UN, “the resolution was initiated by Bhutan, a country which has recognized the value of national happiness over national income since the early 1970s.” When talking about this hook, cite the values of economic opportunity and community.

March 21

Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Discuss racial justice by citing the values of voice, equity, and community.

March 22

March 22 is World Water Day to focus attention on the importance of universal access to clean water in developing countries. In the U.S., the issue of water as a right was brought to light by the winter storm crisis in Texas in Feb. 2021 and in Flint, Michigan, before that. Use this hook to discuss clean water infrastructure, citing the values of economic opportunity and community.

March 23

On this day in 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. More than 20 million people gained health coverage through the Act. Despite advances in coverage under the ACA, the United States continues to have one of the most expensive and least equitable healthcare systems among developed countries. To discuss the anniversary and current healthcare debate, cite the values of economic opportunity and community.

March 24

ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) held its first-ever demonstration on this day in 1987. The protest on Wall Street targeted pharmaceutical companies that were profiteering from the epidemic. ACT UP brought widespread attention to the AIDS epidemic and helped make significant advances in AIDS research. Discuss this anniversary and the ongoing need for healthcare and LGBTQ activism. Cite the values of voice, equity, and community.

March 25

On this day in 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan killed 146 immigrant garment workers (predominantly women). Use this anniversary to discuss the concerns of immigrant workers, particularly workplace safety. Cite the values of economic opportunity and community.

On this day in 1931, nine young African-American men (The “Scottsboro Boys”) were falsely accused of rape by two white women in Alabama. Despite a lack of evidence, eight of them were convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. Their case gained national attention and sparked outcry from civil rights groups who organized legal defense to clear their names. On this anniversary, discuss the continued need for criminal justice reform. Cite the values of equity and voice.

Today is also the birthday of Aretha Franklin in 1942. Use the anniversary of her birth to talk about the role of influential artists in fighting for the values of voice, equity, and community.

March 25-31

The last seven days of March are National Farmworker Awareness Week. Since 1999, Student Action with Farmworkers has coordinated this week of action to “raise awareness about farmworker issues, honor their everyday contributions, and gain more allies to help advocate for better living and working conditions in the fields.” Farm work exposes workers to significant occupational hazards and has few federal labor protections such as overtime pay or unemployment insurance. Talk about farmworker rights citing the values of economic opportunity, equity, and community.

March 26

On this day in 1839, the Cherokee people reached the end of the “Trail of Tears,” a forced death march from their ancestral home in the Smoky Mountains to the Oklahoma Territory.

March 28

On March 28, 1898, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark that, under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, children who are born in the United States to non-citizen parents are indeed U.S. citizens. Wong Kim Ark had been born in San Francisco to Chinese immigrants who were barred from ever becoming U.S. citizens under the Chinese Exclusion Act. He was denied re-entry to the United States after a trip to China and sued the federal government. Discuss this anniversary citing the values of equity and community.

March 30

On this day in 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was formally adopted. The last of the three Reconstruction amendments, it gave Black men the right to vote by declaring that this right could “not be abridged or denied by any state” on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Over time, loopholes in the amendment would allow states to implement restrictions such as poll taxes and literacy tests that did not mention race by name, but effectively prevented most African Americans from voting. As a result of the Supreme Court’s gutting of The Voting Rights Act of 1965, voting rights face major threats in states across the nation. Discuss this anniversary by citing the values of voice and equity.

March 31

Today is labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez’s birthday (1927) and a state holiday in California. Discuss the ongoing issues faced by farmworkers and the importance of unions, citing the values of economic opportunity and community.

Today is also the International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day dedicated to “celebrating the accomplishments and victories of transgender & gender non-conforming people while raising awareness of the work that is still needed to save trans lives.” When talking about this day, cite the values of voice and equity.

On this day in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress created the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work-relief program to combat unemployment. The corps provides a historic precedent for proposals like the Green New Deal. Use this anniversary to discuss the values of opportunity and community.

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