May 25th is one of the most significant of modern holidays for African people globally. Number one, it is universally known as African Liberation Day, and has been since the Organization of African Unity created it in 1963, to represent the relentless thrust towards freedom and self-reliance and march away from colonialism and dependency. The day represents a time of re-dedication of one’s commitment to re-establish Africa as a united, global player on the world stage and to regain the dignity and integrity of being African in the modern world.

Number two, when the new continental organization, the African Union, replaced the OAU in 2001-2002, the AU made African Liberation Day into All Africa or African Union Day. It became the first all-continental African holiday in history, and is fast gaining recognition and acceptance in all 54 African countries. Government offices are closed and so are banks and post offices on most of the continent. It is part of the AU’s plan to create the United States of Africa between now and 2020, so this holiday is seen as a beginning unifier.

Of course, African Americans, African descendants in the Caribbean and those in Canada still call it ALD and have small to massive public celebrations every May 25th, including parades, teach-ins, conferences, social gatherings specifically for political discussions, and book exhibitions, among other activities. This day is also regarded as the birthday of African independence and the struggle for real African freedom. It is what May 1st–May Day– is to members of the labor movement worldwide.

African American celebrations of the holiday have been going on since the first large one in Washington, D.C. in 1972, at the height of the fervor over ending apartheid and creating a National Black Agenda, during the Black Arts Movement.

So whether you call it All Africa Day, African Union Day, or simply African Liberation Day, May 25th has a special importance in the modern world.