This national holiday commemorates the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., because of the tremendous impact he had on the United States and the world. Dr. King was a dreamer, a doer, an activist, an intellectual, and a leader, above all. His ideas about equality, justice, compassion, and civility have informed and inspired generations of Americans. MLK Day is celebrated annually on the 3rd Monday of January.
OC Human Relations office is closed on this date to celebrate the contributions of Dr. King.
Learn more about Martin Luther King Day.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is an international memorial day on 27 January commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust that occurred during the Second World War. It commemorates the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated 6 million Jewish people, 5 million Slavs, 3 million ethnic Poles, 200,000 Romani people, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people, and 9,000 homosexual men by the Nazi regime and its collaborators
The International Day in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is thus a day on which we must reassert our commitment to human rights. […]
We must also go beyond remembrance, and make sure that new generations know this history. We must apply the lessons of the Holocaust to today’s world. And we must do our utmost so that all peoples may enjoy the protection and rights for which the United Nations stands.
— Message by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon for the second observance of the Holocaust Victims Memorial Day on 19 January 2008
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
As a Harvard-trained historian, Carter G. Woodson, like W. E. B. Du Bois before him, believed that truth could not be denied and that reason would prevail over prejudice. His hopes to raise awareness of African American’s contributions to civilization was realized when he and the organization he founded, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), conceived and announced Negro History Week in 1925. The event was first celebrated during a week in February 1926 that encompassed the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The response was overwhelming: Black history clubs sprang up; teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils; and progressive whites, not simply white scholars and philanthropists, stepped forward to endorse the effort.
By the time of Woodson’s death in 1950, Negro History Week had become a central part of African American life and substantial progress had been made in bringing more Americans to appreciate the celebration. At mid–century, mayors of cities nationwide issued proclamations noting Negro History Week. The Black Awakening of the 1960s dramatically expanded the consciousness of African Americans about the importance of black history, and the Civil Rights movement focused Americans of all color on the subject of the contributions of African Americans to our history and culture.
The celebration was expanded to a month in 1976, the nation’s bicentennial. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” That year, fifty years after the first celebration, the association held the first African American History Month. By this time, the entire nation had come to recognize the importance of Black history in the drama of the American story. Since then each American president has issued African American History Month proclamations. And the association—now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)—continues to promote the study of Black history all year.
February 1, 1960: Four college students in Greensboro, North Carolina refuse to leave a Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter without being served. Their nonviolent demonstration sparks similar “sit-ins” throughout the city and in other states.
More Information: Greensboro Sit-in
Rosa Parks Day is an American observance to honor civil rights activist Rosa Parks, who was known for refusing to give up her seat on a bus. It is a legal observance in California on February 4 and Ohio on December 1. Rosa Parks Day promotes equal opportunities, civil rights, and fairness across communities in the U.S. Church leaders, politicians, and organizational leaders unite to promote the day with a range of events and activities.
Learn more about Rosa Parks Day
On February 9, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which allowed local military commanders to designate “military areas” as “exclusion zones,” from which “any or all persons may be excluded.” Accordingly, 127,000 US residents of Japanese ancestry, most of whom were US citizens, were removed from the Pacific Coast. They would be interned in “relocation” camps in the interior portions of the country, with little regard for the significant loss of property and assets and the disruption of traditional family structure this caused.
Schools were still segregated in Westminster, CA, when Mexican-Puerto Rican Sylvia Mendez and her family came to town from Santa Ana in the 1940’s. When Mendez and her brothers were denied access to an all-white elementary school, her parents filed a lawsuit in Federal Court in Los Angeles against the school district. (Mendez vs. Westminster)
On February 18, 1946, Judge Paul McCormick ruled in favor of Mendez, making her one of the first Hispanics to attend an all-white school. Mendez’s case ended de jure segregation in California, setting a precedent for Brown vs. Board of Education seven years later, which brought an end to school segregation in the entire country.
On Feb 15, 2011, Sylvia Mendez received a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama at the White House. Mendez vs. Westminster was awarded a OC Human Relations Award in 2014.
Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. We uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.
For the United Nations, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN system’s commitment to social justice. The Declaration focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work.
Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. The ILO estimates that currently about 2 billion people live in fragile and conflict-affected situations, of whom more than 400 million are aged 15 to 29.
Job creation, better quality jobs, and better access to jobs for the bottom 40 per cent have the potential to increase incomes and contribute to more cohesive and equitable societies and thus are important to prevent violent conflicts and to address post-conflict challenges.
More info at: https://www.un.org/en/events/socialjusticeday/
March has been declared Women’s History Month. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of women whose commitment to nature and the planet have proved invaluable to society.
Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”
Read more in Law Library of Congress’ guide to the legislative history of Women’s History Month.
On March 6, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925, which included a provision that government contractors “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” The intent of this executive order was to affirm the government’s commitment to equal opportunity for all qualified persons, and to take positive action to strengthen efforts to realize true equal opportunity for all.