In the United States, the 3rd Monday in January is a National Holiday in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. While it is not a holiday in Canada, Canadians and people all over the world will take some time today to acknowledge the tremendous legacy of Dr. King as a champion of freedom, equality and peace.
Check out our book display in honour of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, including these titles:
International Women’s Day is celebrated around the globe every March 8th. International Women’s Day is a celebration of the contributions of women to society, especially in politics, culture, economics and other areas traditionally closed to women or where the achievements of women were ignored. IWD is also a chance to focus on the continuing battle for gender equality.
The inequality of opportunity for women, and of course outcome, is unacceptable in modern democracies, and worse in other parts of the world. According to the United Nations, “Today, gender inequality is rife: 1 in 3 women experience violence in their lifetime; 830 women die every day from preventable pregnancy-related causes; and only 1 in 4 parliamentarians worldwide are women. It will be 2086 before we close the gender pay gap if present trends continue with no action.” Those are just a fraction of the statistics which demonstrate the continuing need to stand up against inequality.
The struggle for women’s rights is a struggle for human rights. All people, men as well as women, should stand together and demand change.
American Suffragist Susan B. Anthony was born on this day in 1820. Anthony is considered to be one of the foremost figures in the 19th Century struggle for women’s rights and equality. She was also a heavily involved in the abolition movement, fighting against the horrific institution of slavery.
Pro baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson was born on this day in 1919. An outstanding player who would go on to win MVP awards and Championships, Robinson will forever be remembered as the first African-American to play Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He stood up to unspeakable racism with dignity and grace. In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his breaking the colour barrier, Major League Baseball retired Jackie’s number, 42.
Women’s Marches took place this past weekend around the country and around the world. Hundreds of thousands of women joined in solidarity in cities like Vancouver and others around Canada, the United States and across the globe. The Women’s March of 2018 was the first anniversary of the Women’s March that took place last year, with much of the impetus coming from protests against the policies of the new U.S. President. In the year that followed the news has been dominated by issues related to the equality and rights of women, making this year’s march as important as ever.
Cassius Clay was born on this day in 1942. After winning a Gold Medal in the Olympics for the United States, he would turn professional and go on to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali as part of his conversion to Islam. Ali would win the Heavyweight Title an unprecedented three times, most famously regaining the title in 1974, seven years after having his title stripped from him in 1967. When Ali was drafted for military service by the US government, likely for duty in Vietnam, Ali refused induction as a conscientious objector, citing his religious beliefs and his opposition to the Vietnam War. Ali famously told the world that “No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end”
Ali was arrested and found guilty of draft evasion. Boxing authorities stripped him of his title and banned him from the sport for nearly 4 years. Although the Supreme Court eventually overturned his criminal conviction, he had lost his title and many years of his athletic prime. Remarkably, he fought his way back to the top, defeating George Forman in the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974. After losing the title again in 1978 to Leon Spinks, Ali won the rematch to regain the Belt for an unprecedented third Heavyweight Boxing Title.
Ali is arguably the greatest athlete in history. In his prime, he was certainly the most famous and recognizable athlete in the entire world. Ali was a polarizing figure, as many hated him for his brash, self-aggrandizing demeanor and his outspoken religious and political statements. However, even more people loved him. To a generation of people all over the globe, Ali was a counter-cultural hero who represented the struggle against racism, against war and against the conservative authorities of the day.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on this day in 1929.
Dr. King was the leading figure of the Civil Rights Movement, as African-Americans struggled for freedom and equality in the United States. Dr. King was a brilliant orator and an inspirational leader. Dr. King was committed to the principals to non-violence, in part based on the example of Gandhi in India. He believed that the only path towards a peaceful resolution of the plight of black people in the United States was through non-violence, civil disobedience, and peaceful protest.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated as a national holiday in the United States on the 3rd Monday of January.
“The historic decision to include women in the legal definition of “persons” was handed down by Canada’s highest court of appeal – the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of Great Britain – on October 18, 1929. This gave women the right to be appointed to the Senate of Canada and paved the way for women’s increased participation in public and political life.” (From Status of Women Canada: Persons Day.)
It may seem incomprehensible to us that women were not considered to be “persons”, at least under a strict definition of Canadian law prior to 1929. The “Famous Five” led the fight all the way to the highest courts of the land to include women in the legal definition of “persons.”
“The exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word “person” should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?”
Today we can celebrate that victory, and the slow but steady change in Canadian society towards equality for women. We still have a long way to go, and sadly, in much the world, women are still denied equality, a “relic of days more barbarous than ours.” Persons Day is a chance to celebrate how far we have come, and to reflect on how far we still need to go.
October 11th is International Day of the Girl. From the United Nations:
There are 1.1 billion girls in the world, and every one of them deserves equal opportunities for a better future. They are a source of energy, power and creativity. They can drive change and help build a better future for all. Yet, most girls face disadvantage and discrimination on a daily basis, and those living through crises are suffering even more. (UN, 2017)
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In doing so, he became the first African-American to play in the major leagues of baseball, breaking the racist colour barriers that shamefully tarnish the history of the great game of baseball. Jackie Robinson was a wonderfully talented player who earned the praise of fans for his play on the field. He also earned praise for his courage and determination in the face of a racist society that continued to resist the equal participation of non-whites in the game and in the everyday life of the nation. Robinson faced racial taunting and violence on the field, and untold indignities and threats away from the ballpark. Thankfully his determination led the way for more black players to follow and helped our society move along the long slow path towards changing attitudes, promoting acceptance and tolerance, and the goal of eliminating racism. Today in all MLB parks, players will wear #42 in honour of Jackie Robinson.
Reggae legend Bob Marley was born on this day in 1945 in Nine Miles, Jamaica. Sadly, he died far too young, at only 36 in 1981. For more on the life of this amazing artist, take a look at some of the many books we have here in the school library. Online you can also check out: