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Every human being deserves to be born in freedom and treated with dignity, but there are still many situations around the world where people of certain heritage or skin color do not receive these inherent rights. From the unacceptable practices of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and colonialism of the past to discrimination and systemic racism in today’s justice systems, the need to acknowledge and overcome these challenges is urgent. 

International Day for People of African Descent is an important time to stand up for the dignity, equality and rights of this particular group of human beings who have faced socially unjust treatment for centuries. Whether a person is of African descent or comes from another heritage, this is a vital time to honor the diverse cultural background, shared heritage and far-reaching impact that people of African descent have had on the world.

History of International Day for People of African Descent

First celebrated in 2021, the International Day for People of African Descent is an observance founded by the United Nations. The purpose behind the event is to call attention to the extraordinary contributions of the African people who live in all places around the world. In addition, this day is also meant to promote equality with the intent to eliminate discrimination against people with an African heritage.

Three themes are included for this day: recognition, justice and development. In 2023, the US Secretary of State affirmed the country’s commitment to the principles behind the United Nations International Day for People of African Descent. 

How to Observe International Day for People of African Descent

Show some support and appreciation on the UN’s International Day for People of African Descent by participating with some of these ideas:

Join Events Celebrating Afrodescendant People

Participate in this special day by attending events in the community, or by hosting a private gathering with a few friends or family members. Consider including important cultural aspects from Africa, such as special foods, music, clothing, decorations and traditions. International Day for People of African Descent is an ideal time to show some love and appreciation for this rich heritage, making an opportunity to honor these roots and bring them forward into the future.

Learn More About African Peoples

One way for non-African-descended people to pay honor and respect on International Day for People of African Descent might be to get more educated about the wide and vast range of different types of people from the African diaspora who are now living all over the world. This can be done through reading a myriad of books or watching films and documentaries about the history and heritage of African peoples. Teachers and parents can include children of all ages by tailoring lessons and activities around the topic of people from Africa.

Stand Up for Equality

Because people of African descent are much more likely to face challenges such as social exclusion, marginalization, health care access, education discrimination, economic disparities and many others, they need and deserve support from their communities locally and throughout the world. From standing up against racial injustice politically or in the workplace to making a donation for a charity that supports education or legal needs for African descended people, fighting for equality should happen every day. The annual celebration of International Day for People of African Descent serves as a reminder and shines a vital spotlight on this need.

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