Arab American Heritage Month

April 2022

Celebrating the rich and diverse culture and contributions of the diverse population of Arab Americans, National Arab American Heritage Month has been observed during the month of April since 2017. Here at Victra, our People of Color United [POCU] ERG is excited to celebrate and bring awareness to the Arab heritage and culture and invite you to join us!

An estimated 3.7 million Americans have Arab roots, according to the Arab American Institute, with ancestries traced to 22 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, including Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and others.

Arab Immigration to the US

In the late 1800s, Arab immigration to the United States began, according to the Migration Policy Institute, with Arab Christians fleeing the Ottoman Empire—what’s now Syria, Lebanon and Israel—from religious persecution and conscription, as well as economic reasons. The U.S. Department of State reports that the immigrants mostly landed in the Northeast and Midwest, finding work there in sales and as grocers.

The Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924, which used origin quotas to limit immigration, halted the influx of Arab immigrants until 1948 to 1966, when a new wave of Middle Eastern immigration began due to the Arab-Israeli War and other regional conflicts. Many of those immigrants came to Detroit during the auto industry boom. A third Arab immigration wave occurred in the U.S. following the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended quotas favoring those from northern and western Europe.

Today, Arab Americans live in all U.S. states, with two-thirds residing in 10 states: California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia. One-third live in the greater Los Angeles area, Detroit and New York, the Arab American Institute reports. The largest group, comprising nearly one-third of the Arab American population, are Lebanese Americans, and, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Dearborn, Michigan, outside of Detroit, boasts the country’s largest percentage of Arab Americans.

Commemorating the Month

The initiative for official national designation of the month was launched in 2017 by the nonprofit media and education organization Arab American Foundation and its sister organization Arab America. It began with support from a few states, but gained momentum each year. In 2019, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan.) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), introduced a resolution to Congress to proclaim April as National Arab American Heritage Month. The bill remains pending.

“It is my hope as a strong and proud Arab American in Congress that our nation can uplift our contributions in the United States by supporting Arab American Heritage Month”

– Rashida Tlaib, US Representative for Michigan’s 13th congressional district

National Arab American Heritage Month was recognized in April 2021 by President Joe Biden, with the U.S. Department of State, some members of Congress and 37 governors issuing proclamations supporting the month, according to Arab America.

“The Arab American community is essential to the fabric of our nation, and I am honored to be part of this celebration of Arab American culture, heritage, and contributions to American society. The Arab American community exemplifies so much of what our country stands for: hard work, resilience, compassion, and generosity. Diversity is one of our greatest strengths, and it is essential that we continue celebrating, promoting, and educating others about the myriad ways that the Arab people have advanced human civilization and contributed to the well-being of our nation.”

– Joe Biden, US President

By 2022, Illinois, Oregon and Virginia passed permanent legislation designating April as National Arab American Heritage Month, with similar legislation pending in Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island.

Learn More About Arab Culture

ArabAmerica.com has a vast list of resources and content regarding the Arab and Arab American identity and culture:

  • Language and Literature
  • Art
  • Food
  • Music and Dance
  • And More!

Overview of the Arab World

Arab American Culture, Customs and Traditions

Arab Americans and Religion

Notable Arab Americans

Autism Acceptance Month

April 2022

Autism Acceptance Month (previously Autism Awareness Month) aims to celebrate and promote acceptance for the condition that occurs in one in every 54 children as of 2020 in the United States. Autism, a complex developmental condition affecting the patient’s ability to interact, communicate, and progress, has not one but many subtypes. Here at Victra, we know that we interact daily with employees, vendors or guests that are either personally on the spectrum, or have personal ties to someone who is. We want to celebrate and bring awareness and understanding to this amazing community.

History

Every April, the Autism Society works to build an inclusive community where autistic individuals are embraced and supported to achieve the highest quality of life possible. The Autism Society was founded in 1965 by Bernard Rimland and remains one of the few grassroots organizations in the autistic community. Driven by the fact that autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the world, the Autism Society hosted one of its first nationwide efforts of an awareness campaign called National Autistic Children’s Week in 1972, which subsequently evolved into the Autism Acceptance Month earmarked in April.

The Autism Society deeply understands the need to foster awareness and acceptance to ignite change and a healthier lifestyle through improved opportunities for people with autism. It works every day to improve the lives of affected individuals and families. The organization caters to more than 600,000 people living under the “autism onslaught,” using tools like community partnerships with organizations, digital and print resources, along with events and referrals to spark empathy and inclusivity in the general public. Besides educating masses for better systems-wide change and acceptance, their affiliate program stretches across more than 75 networks and advocates for exclusive services for the autistic community. With the autism diagnosis rate increasing fast, April is designated to celebrate the differences, learn more about, and empower autistic individuals.

Change in Terminology

In 2021, the Autism Society decided to shift the terminology from Autism Awareness Month to Autism Acceptance Month. Christopher Banks, President and CEO of the Autism Society of America, said this of the change:

“While we will always work to spread awareness, words matter as we strive for autistic individuals to live fully in all areas of life. As many individuals and families affected by autism know, acceptance is often one of the biggest barriers to finding and developing a strong support system.”

The shift in terminology fosters acceptance to ignite change through improved support and opportunities in education, employment, accessible housing, affordable health care, and comprehensive long-term services. Acceptance is so integral that the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has been referring to April as Autism Acceptance Month since 2011, expressing that accepting autism as a natural condition is “necessary for real dialogue to occur.” The Autism Society of America is also advocating the federal government to officially designate April as “Autism Acceptance Month” since there has never been a formal designation for AAM.

Autism Facts

  • Autism means alone: The word “autism” is derived from the Greek word “autos” meaning self. The literal meaning of Autism is “alone.”
  • It is more common than other common diseases: Autism is found to be more prevalent than childhood cancer, diabetes, and AIDS.
  • Dogs are autistic-friendly: Research has shown that dogs are linked to improved quality of life in autistic children, helping with their aggressive behavior, promoting independence, and safety.
  • It is more likely to occur with “older” fathers: Another study reveals autism genetically occurs more in children with fathers aged over 40 years.

International Transgender Day of Visibility

March 31, 2022

International Transgender Day of Visibility (also called TDOV, Transgender Day of Visibility) is an annual event occurring on March 31 dedicated to celebrating transgender people and raising awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people worldwide, as well as a celebration of their contributions to society.

The day was founded by transgender activist Rachel Crandall in 2009 as a reaction to the lack of LGBT recognition of transgender people, citing the frustration that the only well-known transgender-centered day was the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which mourned the murders of transgender people, but did not acknowledge and celebrate living members of the transgender community. The first International Transgender Day of Visibility was held on March 31, 2009. In 2014, the day was observed by activists across the world.

In the face of seemingly relentless attacks, transgender and non-binary people are more visible than ever before. We are proud to recognize International Transgender Day of Visibility and the determination it takes for transgender and non-binary people to be living openly and authentically today. Transgender people are our friends and family, our neighbors and our colleagues — and, like all of us, simply want to live their lives every day as who they are. However, even as we celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility, we must recognize and remember that there are many trans and non-binary people in this country, and across the globe, who are not able to safely live their lives as their full selves, as well as those who face discrimination and violence for living openly. Today and every day, we will fight for a world where all transgender and non-binary people are able to lives their lives as their full selves, free from discrimination.

-Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

Joe Biden officially proclaimed March 31, 2021, as a Transgender Day of Visibility, proclaiming in part, “I call upon all Americans to join in the fight for full equality for all transgender people.” The White House published this proclamation; this made Biden the first American president to issue a formal presidential proclamation recognizing the Transgender Day of Visibility.

2021 Proclamation on Transgender Day Of Visibility

2022 Proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility

How to Be a Good Ally

VPA is happy to recognize and celebrate the Trans community. When you become an ally of transgender people, your actions will help change the culture, making society a better, safer place for transgender people and for all people (trans or not) who do not conform to conventional gender expectations.

There is no one way to be a ‘perfect’ ally. The transgender community is diverse and complex, coming from every region of the United States and around the world, from every racial and ethnic background, and from every faith community. This means that different members of the transgender community have different needs and priorities. Similarly, there is no one right way to handle every situation, or interact with every trans person. Be respectful, do your best, and keep trying. Here are a few basics to remember:

  • You don’t have to understand someone’s identity to respect it.
  • You can’t always tell if someone is transgender simply by looking at them.
  • There is no “one right way” to be transgender.
  • Continue to educate yourself.

Here is a full page dedicated to being a trans ally!

Additional Resources

Common Terms

  • Transgender: An adjective describing a person whose gender identity or expression is different from that traditionally associated with an assigned gender at birth.
  • Gender Expression: The manner in which a person represents or expresses gender to others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice, or mannerisms.
  • Gender Identity: A person’s deeply held sense or psychological knowledge of their own gender, which can include being female, male, another gender, or no gender. Gender identity is an innate and largely inflexible part of a person’s identity. One’s gender identity can be the same or different than the gender assigned at birth. The responsibility for determining an individual’s gender identity rests with the individual. Children typically begin to understand their own gender identity by age four, although the age at which individuals come to understand and express their gender identity may vary based on each person’s social and familial development.
  • Gender Nonconforming: A term for people whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations, such as “feminine” boys, “masculine” girls, and those who are perceived as androgynous. This includes people who identify outside traditional gender categories or identify as multiple genders. Other terms that can have similar meanings include gender diverse or gender expansive.
  • Nonbinary/Genderqueer: Terms used by those who identify with neither, both, or a combination of genders.
  • Sexual Orientation: A person’s romantic and/or physical attraction to people of the same or opposite gender or other genders. Transgender and gender nonconforming people may have any sexual orientation.
  • Transition: The process in which a person goes from living and identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another. Transition is a process that is different for everyone, and it may or may not involve social, legal, or physical changes. There is no one step or set of steps that an individual must undergo in order to have their gender identity affirmed and respected.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed with a series of events and activities worldwide on March 21 each year. The day aims to remind people of racial discrimination’s negative consequences. It also encourages people to remember their obligation and determination to combat racial discrimination. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is not a public holiday in all countries. Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States are several countries that do not recognize this day as a public holiday.

Background

It was established six years after an event, known as the Sharpeville massacre. This event involved police opening fire and killing sixty-nine people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa, March 21, 1960. Sharpeville massacre capture worldwide attention. The UN General Assembly called on the international community to increase its awareness and efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. The UN General Assembly proclaimed the day as an UN Day of observance in 1966. The UN continues its work to fight against all forms of racial intolerance.

2022 Theme

The 2022 edition of the International Day focuses on the theme “VOICES FOR ACTION AGAINST RACISM”. This edition aims, in particular, at: highlighting the importance of strengthening meaningful and safe public participation and representation in all areas of decision-making to prevent and combat racial discrimination; reaffirming the importance of full respect for the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and of protecting civic space; and recognizing the contribution of individuals and organizations that stand up against racial discrimination and the challenges they face.

This simple message can be a powerful vehicle to encourage people everywhere to strengthen and consolidate their voices against racism, to mobilize against all forms and manifestations of racial discrimination and injustice, and to ensure a safe environment for those who speak up. It lends itself towards telling personal interest stories and can feature people and populations from across the world.

Learn More

Please click on the hyperlinks below to find out more details on holiday and how we all can play our part in combatting racial discrimination.

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (unesco.org)

United Nations Observances

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month is observed in March in the U.S. This class of disabilities can refer to impairments in learning and behavior and impairments in physical and/or intellectual functioning. The campaign seeks to raise awareness about including people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life. It also creates awareness of the difficulties that people with disabilities still face in fitting into the communities in which they live.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developmental disabilities are defined as impairments in physical, learning, language or behavior areas, and include:

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Learning or intellectual disabilities
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision impairment
  • Other developmental delays

History

Before the 19th century, people with developmental disabilities were treated violently and lived in poor, unhygienic environments. Many were ‘passed on,’ a practice of carting off people to be dropped in another town. More awareness about developmental disabilities spread in this century both in England and in the U.S.

Social reformers such as Dorothy Dea became leading advocates of the human rights of people with disabilities. Since it was socially unacceptable for a woman to speak in Congress, she asked another reformer, Samuel Gridley Howe, to present her argument for rehabilitating people with disabilities. The motion was passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives but was vetoed by President Pierce. Even the Romantic poets of England such as Byron, Wordsworth, and Keats, who highlighted the goodness of leading a simple life close to nature, were instrumental in prompting authorities to situate asylums in the countryside.

Other reformers and educationists such as Edouard Seguin believed in the benefits of sensory and muscular training to force the central nervous system to “take over” and perform duties that children were otherwise unable to. Maria Montessori was influenced by his methods while working with children with disabilities and other children. The nature of training and institutions continued to evolve over the century, leading to an adverse development. Custodial institutions started being established by the end of the century, which essentially segregated pupils from the rest of the community. It was only after the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1970s and 1980s that Ronald Reagan declared March the month for National Developmental Disabilities Awareness in 1987.

2022 Theme

Each March, the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), and their partners work together to create a social media campaign that highlights the many ways in which people with and without disabilities come together to form strong, diverse communities.

The campaign seeks to raise awareness about the inclusion of people with developmental disabilities in all facets of community life, as well as awareness of the barriers that people with disabilities still sometimes face in connecting to the communities in which they live.

The 2022 theme, “Worlds Imagined”, focuses on how the world is changing as we move through and beyond the pandemic. With this theme, NACDD plans to highlight intersectionality and disability, as well as how people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are living longer and more productive lives than ever before. The 2022 DDAM theme encourages exploration of new and ever-changing opportunities.

“As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has- or ever will have- something inside that is unique to all time. It’s our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.”

-Fred Rogers

In this quote, Mr. Rogers truly articulates a “world imagined.”

Tuskegee Airmen

The fourth Thursday in March of each year is designated as Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day. Tuskegee Airmen Commemoration Day honors the more than 15,000 men and women involved in the ‘Tuskegee Experience’, during which the Army Air Corps trained African Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft. Pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance and support staff, instructors, and all the personnel who kept the planes in the air are all Tuskegee Airmen.

March is a special month for Tuskegee Airmen, as many of their most notable accomplishments occurred in the month of March, including: the first cadets received their wings, the first maintenance crew began training at Chanute Field, Illinois, the activation of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, and in 2007, President George W. Bush presented the Tuskegee Airmen with the Congressional Gold Medal.

History

Prior to World War II, African Americans had extremely limited opportunities in the defense of this nation with no roles in military aviation. When the United States entered World War II, African Americans desired more meaningful jobs in the military, including flying and maintaining military aircraft and the rapid expansion of aircraft production during the war created an urgent need for more trained military pilots.

The United States War Department’s Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) program authorized colleges and universities to train students to fly, increasing the number of civilian pilots, and thereby, increasing the nation’s military preparedness. In 1941, Tuskegee Institute in Alabama was one of six Black schools chosen to participate in the CPT program. Following the initiation of the program, the Tuskegee Institute was selected to offer advanced CPT training and was selected as the sole site for segregated military flight training, and the graduates of the CPT program at the Tuskegee Institute became known as Tuskegee Airmen.

The Tuskegee Airmen overcame insurmountable odds in the form of pervasive racial and legal impediments during the World War II era in order to make their contribution, and the accomplishments of the courageous African American pilots of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, as the airmen were officially known, are world renowned. The achievements of the 99th Pursuit Squadron in combat include destruction of 111 aircraft (in the air), destruction of 150 aircraft (on the ground), destruction of 16 barges and boats, 58 box cars and other rolling stock, 57 locomotives, 1 radar installation, and 2 oil and ammunition dumps.

Learn More

Here at Victra, our VNation Veterans are proud to celebrate and bring awareness to these brave and impactful people in history. The Tuskegee Airmen broke through a massive segregation barrier in the American military. Their success and heroism during World War II shattered pervasive stereotypes and their achievements laid crucial groundwork for civil rights progress in the decades to come.

Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society and has been observed annually in the month of March in the United States since 1987. Women’s History Month 2022 will take place from Tuesday, March 1-Thursday, March 31, 2022.

American women’s history has been full of pioneers: Women who fought for their rights, worked hard to be treated equally and made great strides in fields like science, politics, sports, literature and art. These are just a few of the remarkable accomplishments by trail-blazing women in American history.

Origins of Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California. The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women planned and executed a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.

In 1980, a consortium of women’s groups and historians—led by the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance)—successfully lobbied for national recognition. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week.

Click here to read Joe Biden’s 2022 Women’s History Month Proclamation

Subsequent Presidents continued to proclaim a National Women’s History Week in March until 1987 when Congress passed Public Law 100-9, designating March 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, each president has issued an annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

Women’s History Month 2022 Theme

The National Women’s History Alliance designates a yearly theme for Women’s History Month. The 2022 theme is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” This theme is “both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during this ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.”

How to Celebrate

Here at Victra, our Women’s Empowerment at Victra [WE@V] ERG is celebrating all month long and invite you to join us! Be sure to visit our Women’s History Month page and Vision to stay up to date on the latest education and celebration!

  • More Upcoming Blog Posts
  • Teams/Zoom backgrounds
  • Influential Women
  • Various History
  • Fun Facts/Quotes
  • & More!

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week

February 20th – 26th, 2022

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week (ASAW) is an annual, international event meant to spread awareness and acceptance of aromantic spectrum identities and the issues they face, as well as making more people aware of their existence while celebrating it.

ASAW generally occurs the first full week (starting Sunday) following Valentine’s Day; it began in large part as a way for those in the aromantic community who had difficulty finding space for their experiences in such a universally romanticized event to come together and celebrate their own unique experiences.

What is Aromanticism?

Aromanticism is a type romantic orientation – that is, an identity that can describe a persons relationship to romance or patterns of romantic attraction or interest. Aromantic people’s experiences of romance (or the lack thereof) are often disconnected from normative societal expectations in some way. This can be due to experiencing little to no romantic attraction, due to feeling repulsed by romance, or due to being uninterested in romantic relationships.

Many aromantic people mention having trouble relating to the experience of “falling in love”, or of having romantic “crushes”. Many may pursue non-traditional forms of intimate relationships, or choose not to have formal “relationships” at all.

There is significant diversity in whether aromantic may or may not enjoy specific activities that are often coded as romantic (such as kissing), be uncomfortable with romance, be single or have a partner or be married – those are individual characteristics that vary widely from one aromantic person to another.

In addition, aromanticism also includes a whole range of related identities, often referred to as the “aromantic spectrum”, which include people who may not identify as strictly aromantic, but who find that the label is still a close fit and that they have a lot in common with the community. Some groups within the aromantic spectrum may also adopt new terms like grayromantic, demiromantic, lithromantic, quoiromantic, etc.

Be an Ally

Being aromantic means being part of a marginalized community, and like any marginalized community, having others know about and stick up for us helps us feel safe and included. Because an ally might have more privilege than the aromantics they support, their voice is a powerful tool for helping aromantics be heard.

DOs:

  • If someone comes out to you as aromantic, do believe them and thank them for telling you.
  • Do your research. Inform yourself about aromantic identities and experiences.
  • Do correct others when they make mistakes or false assumptions, even when there aren’t aromantic people present.
  • Do amplify aromantic voices.

DON’Ts

  • Don’t assume that every aromantic person feels the same way.
  • Don’t belittle aromantics by saying that others are “more oppressed” than they are.
  • Don’t expect praise, being an ally isn’t about stroking your own ego.
  • Don’t expect aromantics to always speak up for themselves. It is sometimes dangerous or exhausting to do so.

Resources

VPA is happy to recognize and celebrate the Aromantic community. To learn more about aromanticism and the whole aromantic spectrum, check out these FAQs and other resources.

Throwdown Thursday: Cheese Enchiladas

This recipe was submitted by one of our board members of POCU, Roberto Gomez.

I’m the oldest of 4 siblings. Ranging from 28 to 11 years old. The youngest being born a few months before I graduated high school. (joke is my mom felt the need to replace me). My family lived pay check to pay check up until the last several years. Food was never an issue but it was a special occasion to go to McDonalds or to grab a pizza. So we did get to experience a ton of home cooked meals that we cherish to this day. Since we’ve moved out we found that we didn’t pay enough attention and frequently call our mom to relearn!

In partnership with my sister we decided on some Cheese Enchiladas. Simple version that can be modified to add chicken, beef or whatever someone’s heart desires! There was not a better feeling than coming home to seeing a stack of these on a plate waiting to be demolished. Today we still ask momma Lourdes to throw down.

Now for some housekeeping items. Please do not wear nicer clothes when making this. The sauce WILL stain your shirt and serve as a “Job well done” badge for years to come. We did find a YouTube video that closely resembles how my family Throws Down!

Before you watch we wanted to share a key change.
-In the sauce we add some 3/4 of Abuelita’s Chocolate and the TIP of a stick of cinnamon. No more than the length of HALF a pinky nail. It helps with the bitterness that can come with some chile. PLUS makes it more of a sweet heat experience. Add these to the blender with the garlic, seasonings on onion when watching the video.

Enjoy!

-Roberto Gomez

Ingredients

14 to 16 corn tortillas
10 oz (283 g) Oaxaca cheese
1/2 medium onion (diced)
Cooking oil for griddle

Toppings
Cotija cheese
Shredded lettuce or cabbage
Diced Onion
Salsa
Mexican sour cream

Red Enchilada Sauce
6 to 7 dried guajillo chiles (cleaned and rinsed)
small piece of onion
1 clove of garlic
2 tsp chicken bouillon powder
salt to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup water or soaking liquid

Directions

Remember when cooking Jollof rice, building a flavor base is very important. Watch the overload of ingredients before it becomes a concoction. Each step counts so try to do each of the steps in detail.

Here at Victra, our People of Color United [POCU] ERG is celebrating Black History Month all month long and invite you to join us!

Click here for a full archive of the month’s events so that you don’t miss out.

Wisdom Wednesday: Civil Rights Movement Timeline

The Civil Rights Movement was an organized effort by Black Americans to end racial discrimination and gain equal rights under the law. It began in the late 1940s and ended in the late 1960s. Although tumultuous at times, the movement was mostly nonviolent and resulted in laws to protect every American’s constitutional rights, regardless of color, race, sex or national origin.

  • July 26, 1948: President Harry Truman issues Executive Order 9981 to end segregation in the Armed Services.

  • May 17, 1954: Brown v. Board of Education, a consolidation of five cases into one, is decided by the Supreme Court, effectively ending racial segregation in public schools. Many schools, however, remained segregated.

  • August 28, 1955: Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago is brutally murdered in Mississippi for allegedly flirting with a white woman. His murderers are acquitted, and the case bring international attention to the civil rights movement after Jet magazine publishes a photo of Till’s beaten body at his open-casket funeral.

  • December 1, 1955: Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. Her defiant stance prompts a year-long Montgomery bus boycott.

  • January 10-11, 1957: Sixty Black pastors and civil rights leaders from several southern states—including Martin Luther King, Jr.—meet in Atlanta, Georgia to coordinate nonviolent protests against racial discrimination and segregation.

  • September 4, 1957: Nine Black students known as the “Little Rock Nine” are blocked from integrating into Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. President Dwight D. Eisenhower eventually sends federal troops to escort the students, however, they continue to be harassed.

  • September 9, 1957: Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act of 1957 into law to help protect voter rights. The law allows federal prosecution of those who suppress another’s right to vote.

  • February 1, 1960: Four African American college students in Greensboro, North Carolina refuse to leave a Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter without being served. The Greensboro Four—Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil—were inspired by the nonviolent protest of Gandhi. The Greensboro Sit-In, as it came to be called, sparks similar “sit-ins” throughout the city and in other states.

  • November 14, 1960: Six-year-oldRuby Bridges is escorted by four armed federal marshals as she becomes the first student to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. Her actions inspired Norman Rockwell’s painting The Problem We All Live With (1964).

  • 1961: Throughout 1961, Black and white activists, known as freedom riders, took bus trips through the American South to protest segregated bus terminals and attempted to use “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters. The Freedom Rides were marked by horrific violence from white protestors, they drew international attention to their cause.

  • June 11, 1963: Governor George C. Wallace stands in a doorway at the University of Alabama to block two Black students from registering. The standoff continues until President John F. Kennedy sends the National Guard to the campus.

  • August 28, 1963: Approximately 250,000 people take part in The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Martin Luther King gives his “I Have A Dream” speech as the closing address in front of the Lincoln Memorial, stating, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”

  • September 15, 1963: A bomb at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama kills four young girls and injures several other people prior to Sunday services. The bombing fuels angry protests.

  • July 2, 1964: President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, preventing employment discrimination due to race, color, sex, religion or national origin. Title VII of the Act establishes the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to help prevent workplace discrimination.

  • February 21, 1965: Black religious leader Malcolm X is assassinated during a rally by members of the Nation of Islam.

  • March 7, 1965: Bloody Sunday. In the Selma to Montgomery March, around 600 civil rights marchers walk to Selma, Alabama to Montgomery—the state’s capital—in protest of Black voter suppression. Local police block and brutally attack them. After successfully fighting in court for their right to march, Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders lead two more marches and finally reach Montgomery on March 25.

  • August 6, 1965: President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prevent the use of literacy tests as a voting requirement. It also allowed federal examiners to review voter qualifications and federal observers to monitor polling places.

  • April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, TennesseeJames Earl Ray is convicted of the murder in 1969.

  • April 11, 1968: President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act, providing equal housing opportunity regardless of race, religion or national origin.

Here at Victra, our People of Color United [POCU] ERG is celebrating Black History Month all month long and invite you to join us!

Click here for a full archive of the month’s events so that you don’t miss out.