June not only marks the beginning of Summer, but it also marks some significant cultural celebrations. Let’s discuss some diversity awareness opportunities for June.
National Caribbean American Heritage Month
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, “In the 19th century, the U.S. attracted many Caribbean’s who excelled in various professions such as craftsmen, scholars, teachers, preachers, doctors, inventors, comedians, politicians, poets, songwriters, and activists. Some of the most notable Caribbean Americans are Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury, Colin Powell, the first person of color appointed as the Secretary of the State, James Weldon Johnson, the writer of the Black National Anthem, Celia Cruz, the world-renowned “Queen of Salsa” music, and Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Congresswoman and first African American woman candidate for President, are among many.”
The official campaign for a National Caribbean American Heritage Month began in 2004 when a legislative bill was tabled in Congress by Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Language was provided by the Institute of Caribbean Studies Founder and President Dr. Claire Nelson. The Bill was reintroduced and passed the House in June 2005 and the Senate in February 2006. A Proclamation making the resolution official was signed by President George W. Bush on June 5, 2006.”
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month
“Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month is currently celebrated each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. The Stonewall Uprising was a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and LGBTQ Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.
In 1994, a coalition of education-based organizations in the United States designated October as LGBT History Month. In 1995, a resolution passed by the General Assembly of the National Education Association included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. National Coming Out Day (October 11), as well as the first “March on Washington” in 1979, are commemorated in the LGBTQ community during LGBT History Month.” Library of Congress
Black Music Month
According to iHeart, “Black Music Month was born off after hitmaking Philadelphia soul producer Kenny Gamble took to Nashville in the 1970s and saw the impact of the Country Music Association’s Country Music Month every October. Inspired by the influence of the annual recognition, Gamble went back to Philly and banded with other Black music community leaders for one common goal: acknowledgment. With no organization existing, Gamble conceptualized the Black Music Association in 1978, recruiting supporters like Stevie Wonder, Motown Records founder Berry Gordy and Rev. Jesse Jackson. With the growing hype, Gamble, alongside media strategist Dyana Williams and radio DJ Ed Wright, pushed forward and birthed Black Music Month. And once the support came in, things took off quickly. In less than a year, more specifically on June 7, 1979, President Carter backed the movement, hosting the first-ever Black Music Month celebration on the White House lawn. Festivities included performances from the likes of Chuck Berry, Billy Eckstine and more.”
African Americans have created, inspired, and fostered many different genres of music. You can celebrate by listening to one of the many genres.
Race Unity Day
“Race Unity Day, also known as Race Amity Day, is observed the second Sunday in June. The day was started by the Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly in the United States in 1957, but it was known as Race Amity Day until 1965. The goal is to raise awareness to the importance of racial harmony and understanding.
Race is one of the most sensitive topics in America. It’s a topic that has been around since the beginning of our country, and it doesn’t seem like it will disappear any time soon. Despite all the progress that has been made, there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to race relations.
How to Celebrate Race Unity Day
There are many examples, both big and small, that show that race relations are still not where they should be. It’s important to have open and honest conversations about race so that we can continue to move forward as a country. Only by doing so can we hope to achieve true equality for all.
Start by showing empathy, being understanding and listening. Stop spreading or supporting hate by listening to propaganda and spreading social media posts that raise anger. Support positive interactions, give shout-outs to those who promote unity, and be aware of fake news. Reach out to your friends who are of a different race and have lunch and open conversations. Let’s support one another and be united.” HolidaySmart.com
Each year on June 12th, Americans remember a key civil case heard by the Supreme Court that would forever change the way Americans were able to find love and marry after more than a dozen states banned interracial marriage.
Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple, married in Washington in 1958. A few weeks after the Lovings moved into their new home, the county sheriff entered their home in the middle of the night and charged the couple with violating several Virginia codes, including one that made it “unlawful for any white person in the state to marry any save a white person.”
Mildred Loving was of African and Native American descent while Richard Loving was white.
The Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to either a year in prison or a 25-year banishment from the state. The couple chose to move back to Washington.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Lovings were inspired by the civil rights movement, so Mildred Loving wrote to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy for help. The couple was referred to the ACLU, which represented them in the landmark Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia in 1967.
The Supreme Court eventually ruled that state bans on interracial marriage were unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.
Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the US. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX and announced the end of the Civil War and slavery per General Orders No. 3. Although the Emancipation Proclamation came 2 ½ years earlier on January 1, 1963, many slave owners continued to hold their slaves captive after the announcement and gained another harvest season from the free labor.
It is considered to be the longest running African American holiday. In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday with several others following suit over the years. In June 2021, Congress passed a resolution establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday and President Biden signed it into law on June 17, 2021.
Celebrations for the holidays above often involve parades, BBQ’s, festivals and music. June offers not only beautiful weather, but also several opportunities to celebrate the rich cultures that make up our great nation.