May brings us holidays from May 1 (May Day) through Memorial Day, May 27 (originally, Decoration Day), the preeminent celebration of loyalty and courage in America’s Civil War. In between May Day and Memorial Day, there is also Cinco de Mayo and the always adventurous Mother’s Day.
In fact, May hosts more than 25 distinctive political observances, including the annual Malcolm X birthday gala and festival (there’s also another Malcolm X festival held annually in April), held in most major urban areas in America.
Sometimes May brings us significant wind and rain, and later, wildfires. The latter came and went bigtime a few days ago.
For the sporting set, there are the annual professional hockey playoffs, the real stepoff of Major League baseball (sure, it starts in April, but really only gets going in May), the roundball playoffs (this year both the Lakers and Clippers have already gone down hard), etc.
Then there’s the famous day at Churchhill Downs for the Kentucky Derby’s “run for the roses” during the first weekend in May, with its largely unknown history of Black jockeys, like Jimmy Winkfield and Isaac Murphy, who dominated the Derby for its first 30 years, only to be replaced by Irish and Anglo riders as the Derby became more commercial and popular.
Holocaust Remembrance Day is in May, along with the National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, the Public Service Recognition Week, the National Teacher’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Month, National Historic Preservation Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and American Armed Forces Day.
May is the birthday month of such luminaries as Socrates and Karl Marx, Willie Mays and Biggie Smalls, Ho Chi Minh and John F. Kennedy, the Ayatollah Khomeini and James Brown, John Wayne and Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis and Patti Labelle, plus Bob Dylan and Jim Jones, to name just a few.
May 25 is ALD Day (African Liberation Day) for African Americans and other members of the African Diaspora. We celebrate it with speakers, panel discussions, teach-ins, old school video-watching parties, and serious discussions about how we are still committed to radical social-political change in the hostile circumstances of being Black and devalued in America and the world.
It is also All Africa Day, the only current African continent-wide (and even worldwide) holiday for all African people.
In 1963, the newly formed Organization of African Unity established May 25 as African Freedom Day, to celebrate the recent independence of 32 former colonies. In the early 1970s, that formal name was changed by community activists in American urban cities to African Liberation Day, and is now celebrated globally under that sobriquet. All Africa Day (aka, Africa Day) also on May 25, is the African Union’s new official holiday (the AU is the organization that replaced the OAU in 2001) to help convince the African continent to become one federated country–the United States of Africa or Union of African States.
The old official name–African Freedom Day–has just evolved to the new formal name, All Africa Day, as designated by Africa’s singular official body. For most of us in the Western Hemisphere, ALD remains the informal, unofficial nickname of All Africa Day. There is even a specific law in the American Virgin Islands calling for a governmental proclamation and an official celebration of ALD annually, although the community activists in the area have to continually remind the V.I. government of its responsibility.
This year, as a special feature on May 25, the African Union is hosting a 50-year jubilee celebration of its journey from the OAU to the AU, and it has asked every African descendant worldwide to participate in at least one event to show their solidarity with that celebration.
Los Angeles will do its own thing at the Vision Theater in Leimert Park on that day. The public is especially encouraged to attend. AMANDLA !!!
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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