May 2023

Brown v. Board of Education, birthdays of Malcolm X, Harvey Milk, and more!

During May

It’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Celebrate by centering the work of AAPI-led organizations and influencers, and paint a vision of what our country can and should be: a safe, inclusive place of participation and belonging where everyone’s rights are protected and respected. Discuss both the gains and challenges confronting AAPI communities with the values of safety, equity, community, and voice.

Community Action Month calls attention to the positive programs by Community Action Agencies that help thousands of families across the United States. These organizations were founded in 1964 as part of the War on Poverty and funded by Community Services block grants. Join the conversation by using the values of community and economic opportunity.

The month of May is also National Mental Health Month, when advocates draw attention to the challenges faced by millions of Americans living with mental illness and push for holistic solutions that support them and their families. Cite the values of economic opportunity, safety, and community.

During May, the federal Administration on Community Living recognizes Older Americans Month. This annual campaign presents an opportunity to discuss the importance of racial and economic justice when developing policies to support senior citizens in our communities. Cite the values of community and economic opportunity.

May 1

May Day is also known as International Workers’ Day. This date has become one of the larger mobilization days to celebrate the important contributions of immigrants to our communities, economy and uplift the need for reforms that uphold human rights and dignity. Talk about the values of community and economic opportunity.

May 3

On this day in 1898, civil rights activist and educator Septima Clark was born. Clark is most famous for establishing “Citizenship Schools” which taught reading and citizenship rights to adults throughout the South. Clark often said, “Literacy means liberation.” Connect her legacy of activism to the ongoing work to achieve true racial and economic justice. Cite the values of voice, community, equity, and economic opportunity.

Folksinger and activist Pete Seeger was born on this day in 1919. Use his birthday to uplift the essential role of artists and cultural strategies to shift narratives and win policy changes. Cite the values of economic opportunity, voice, and community.

May 4

On this day in 1961, the original group of 13 Freedom Riders left Washington, D.C. on a Greyhound bus to protest segregated bus terminals in the South. Use the anniversary to discuss the ongoing threat of white supremacy and how today’s racial justice activism echoes their pioneering actions. Cite the values of voice and equity.

Today is also the birthday of artist Keith Haring, who was a pioneer in pop and street art on LGBTQ issues. Use his birthday to talk about the importance of artists in the struggle for intersectional social justice. Cite the values of voice, equity, and community.

May 5

In 2021, President Joe Biden signed a proclamation recognizing this date as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Awareness Day. This observance follows years of Indigenous-led advocacy and organizing to shed light on the alarming rates of violence against Native American communities and the lack of justice for thousands of missing or murdered Indigenous people. Wear red on this day and uplift the values of safety and equity.

May 6

On this day in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur. In 2012, the U.S House of Representatives and Senate formally expressed regret for denying basic freedoms to Chinese Americans. Use this anniversary to acknowledge the United States’ long history of anti-Asian racism. Cite the values of equity, voice, and community.

May 8

On this day in 1973, Governor Nelson Rockefeller enacted the Rockefeller Drug Laws. These laws became the national policy model for the draconian war on drugs. As decriminalization and legalization conversations move forward, emphasize the importance of public health approaches to treating drug abuse and center economic justice for BIPOC communities by citing the values of equity, safety, and community.

May 10

On this day in 1886, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Yick Wo vs. Hopkins that all people—citizens and non-citizens—had equal protection under the law. The case stemmed from San Francisco’s discriminatory issuing of permits for laundries. Discuss this anniversary citing the values of equity, voice, and community.

May 14

Mother’s Day is an important time to discuss economic and racial justice for families. Past campaigns include creative interventions to share more inclusive “Mama’s Day” cards, release mothers from jail while advocating for an end to money bail, or oppose the separation and detention of families arriving at our borders. Celebrate the values of equity, economic opportunity, and community.

May 17

On this day in 1954, the Supreme Court ruled on the case of Brown vs. Board of Education that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal,” and violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Cite this anniversary by referring to the values of voice, equity, and community.

May 19

Today is the birthday of two racial justice champions: Yuri Kochiyama (1921) and Malcolm X (1925). Talk about their important work with your networks while also asserting the need for ongoing activism to address social and economic injustice. Cite the values of voice, equity, and economic opportunity.

May 21

On this day in 1968, only a few weeks after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights activists formed the Poor People’s Campaign and set up a shantytown known as “Resurrection City” on the National Mall to draw attention to poverty in the United States. Many saw this as an initiative to complete King’s unfinished work. Use the anniversary of this action to discuss the values of community, voice, and economic opportunity.

May 22

Today is Harvey Milk Day, the birthday (in 1930) of one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials. His life was cut short when he was assassinated in 1978. Milk’s life provides an important milestone in the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights. Cite the values of voice, equity, and safety when discussing Milk’s legacy.

May 25

On Memorial Day in 2020, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. Chauvin’s actions, caught on video by a courageous teenage bystander, fueled nationwide mobilizing and organizing. Chauvin was found guilty on three charges of murder and manslaughter, a rare case of police accountability that lower-profile cases have seldom seen. Remember George Floyd and cite the values of safety and equity on this anniversary.

On this day in 2007, President George W. Bush signed into law the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which gradually raised the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It was the last time that the federal minimum wage was raised. Use this anniversary to talk about the urgent need to create economic opportunity for more Americans by paying living wages. Cite the values of economic opportunity and community.

Today is also Red Nose Day which, through engagement with celebrities, raises awareness and funds to help children in need. Use this opportunity to discuss the power of working with cultural influencers and uplift the values of economic opportunity and community.

May 28

On this day in 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed into law the Indian Removal Act. The law authorized the president to “negotiate” the removal of American Indian nations in the South to federal territory west of the Mississippi River, paving the way for white Americans to settle their ancestral lands. Today, we see this act as legitimating the genocide of native people. Talk about this anniversary by citing the values of voice, equity, and community

May 29

On this day in 1851, Sojourner Truth made her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech at the Women’s Rights Convention held in Akron, Ohio. Today, scholars see the speech as an intersectional critique of single-issue activism. It’s also an important anniversary in light of recent abortion bans passed at the state level and their potential impact on people of color. Use the values of voice, equity, and community to discuss this anniversary.

May 30

On May 30, 1955, the Supreme Court ordered that schools should be integrated “with all deliberate speed.” Known as “Brown II,” the order was issued because few schools had integrated since the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Cite this anniversary by referring to the values of voice, equity, and opportunity.

May 31

Today is the birthday of Walt Whitman (b. 1819). Because Whitman criticized slavery and stood up for social justice, he is considered the first “poet of democracy” in the United States. The poet’s sexuality has been disputed but some still consider him a gay icon. Use Whitman’s birthday to discuss the role of artists in changing hearts and minds for lasting social change. Cite the values of voice and equity.

On this day in 2009, Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in Wichita, Kansas. Tiller was the medical director of Women’s Health Care Services and was targeted by anti-abortion extremists. Use the anniversary of Tiller’s death to uplift the work of reproductive justice and the deadly consequences of legislation that restricts access to abortion. Cite the values of equity, economic opportunity, and community.

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