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.
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
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.
International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.
Suffragettes campaigned for women’s right to vote. The word ‘Suffragette’ is derived from the word “suffrage” meaning the right to vote. International Women’s Day honours the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women’s success, and reminds of inequities still to be redressed.
The first International Women’s Day event was run in 1911. Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” Gloria Steinem
Learn more about International Women’s Day
After years of happiness research, one thing has proved fundamental – the importance of our connections with other people.
But modern societies are built as if the opposite was true. We are surrounded by people, yet we feel genuinely connected to almost none of them. The effects are devastating.
Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking; and the epidemic of loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity.
We could change this in a day if we all reached out and made at least one positive connection. For the International Day of Happiness, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
The International Day of Happiness (“Happiness Day”) was founded by United Nations adviser Jayme Illien on June 28, 2012, when all 193 member states of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted UN resolution 66/281:
“The General Assembly,[…] Conscious that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal,[…] Recognizing also the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples, Decides to proclaim 20 March the International Day of Happiness, Invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day of Happiness in an appropriate manner, including through education and public awareness-raising activities[…]”
International Day of Happiness is celebrated annually on March 20.
In 2001, the United Nations declared March 21st to be the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance on 8 September 2001, underlines the key role that political leaders and political parties can and ought to play in combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
At the World Conference and subsequent Review Conference, States also recognized that promoting greater respect and trust among different groups within society must be a shared but differentiated responsibility of government institutions, political leaders, grassroots organizations and citizens.
Learn more at the United Nations website.
Cesar Chavez Day is a federal commemorative holiday in the U.S. by proclamation of President Obama in 2014. César Chávez Day is observed on March 31 each year. It celebrates the birthday of César Estrada Chávez and it serves as a tribute to his commitment to social justice and respect for human dignity. It is an official state holiday in six states: Arizona, California, Michigan, New Mexico, Utah, and Wisconsin.
April 7 – 13, 2019
National volunteer week, usually held in the third week of April unless the spring religious holidays coincide, has been celebrated annually since the 1970s. President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order in 1974, as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. Every sitting U.S. president since Nixon has issued a proclamation during National Volunteer Week
National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. It’s about demonstrating to the nation that by working together, we have the fortitude to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals.
National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.
National Volunteer Week, a program of Points of Light, was established in 1974 and has grown exponentially each year, with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week.
Learn more about National Volunteer Week
May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month – a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. A rather broad term, Asian-Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island).
Like most commemorative months, Asian-Pacific Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.
The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
Learn more about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Mental Health Awareness Month (also referred to as “Mental Health Month”) has been observed in May in the United States since 1949, reaching millions of people in the United States through the media, local events, and screenings. During the 1960’s, this annual, weekly campaign was upgraded to a monthly one with May the designated month.
Mental Health Awareness month has a goal of building public recognition about the importance of mental health to overall health and wellness; informing people of the ways that the mind and body interact with each other; and providing tips and tools for taking positive actions to protect mental health and promote whole health.
Learn more about Mental Health Awareness Month
The UN General Assembly, on 4 December 2000, adopted resolution 55/76 where it noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.
On World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20th, we commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee. One in every 113 people on the planet is now a refugee. Around the world, someone is displaced every three seconds, forced from their homes by violence, war and persecution. By the end of 2016, the number of displaced people had risen to 65.6 million – more than the population of the United Kingdom.
“Refugees are people like anyone else, like you and me. They led ordinary lives before becoming displaced, and their biggest dream is to be able to live normally again. On this World Refugee Day, let us recall our common humanity, celebrate tolerance and diversity and open our hearts to refugees everywhere.” – Ban Ki-moon
Learn more at UN World Refugee Day