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December 2023 Cultural Events

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World Aids Day

World AIDS Day was created to unite everyone in the fight against the HIV epidemic. World AIDS Day was first observed in 1988 and this year marks the 35th commemoration of this important day. This year marks 41 years since the first five cases of what later became known as AIDS were officially reported. Each year, organizations and individuals across the world bring attention to the HIV epidemic, endeavor to increase HIV awareness and knowledge, as well as speak out against HIV stigma.

This year’s theme for World AIDS Day, is a reminder of the global struggle to end HIV-related stigma, an opportunity to honor those we have lost, and a rallying cry to commit to working toward a day when HIV is no longer a public health threat. On this day, we honor the more than 40 million people, who have died from AIDS-related illness globally since the start of the epidemic.


World Aids Day 2023 Theme:

World AIDS Day 35: Remember and Commit

December 1, 1955. Rosa Parks, an African American woman, refused to change seats in a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. On that day, Rosa Parks was riding a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama when the driver told her to give up her seat to a white man. Parks refused and was arrested for violating the city’s racial segregation ordinances, which mandated that Black passengers sit in the back of public buses and give up their seats for white riders if the front seats were full.

On December 5 Black people began a boycott of the bus system lead by Martin Luther King Jr. Because African Americans made up some 70 percent of the bus company’s riders at the time, and the great majority of Montgomery’s Black citizens supported the bus boycott, its impact was immediate. On November 13, 1956, in Browder v. Gayle, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision declaring the bus company’s segregation seating policy unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. King, called off the boycott on December 20, and Rosa Parks—known as the “mother of the civil rights movement”—would be one of the first to ride the newly desegregated buses.


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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

2023 Theme: United in action to rescue and achieve the SDGs for, with and by persons with disabilities

Created by the UN in 1992, this day promotes the dignity, rights, and well-being of people with disabilities. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life. The United Nations works to reach Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with regard to this with disabilities.


Happy Birthday, Jane Swisshelm! (1815 -1884)

Suffragist, and author, Jane wrote articles for local papers against slavery, for women’s rights, and against legal inequities, led to close friendship with Mary Todd Lincoln.


Pearl Harbor Day (USA)

This marks the date of a surprise aerial attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu Island, Hawaii, by the Japanese that precipitated the entry of the United States into World War II. The strike climaxed a decade of worsening relations between the United States and Japan. Two months after the bombing, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, fearing Japanese immigrants or those with Japanese ancestry had taken part in planning the attack, issued an executive order that forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast into internment camps. According to the National Archives, approximately 70,000 of those targeted were U.S. citizens, and no charges were made against any of them. Sadly, most of these people lost their homes, businesses and belongings, and were held until the war ended. The executive order was upheld by the Supreme Court in Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944). In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a law apologizing for the civil liberty injustice with the order to pay $20,000 to each person who had been incarcerated. In 2018, the Supreme Court expressly overruled Korematsu in Trump v. Hawaii, 138 S. Ct. 2392 (2018), the case upholding the Trump administration Muslim ban.


Happy Birthday, Patsy Mink! (1927 -2002)

Patsy was the first Japanese American Congresswoman (D-HI), wrote the Women’s Educational Equity Act, played a key role in the enactment of Title IX, which was renamed posthumously as the “Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act”.


Chanukah (Hanukkah) begins at nightfall on December 7, 2023 and ends with nightfall on December 15, 2023, beginning on the Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev, and lasting for eight days. Chanukah (also spelled Hanukkah) is an 8-day Jewish festival marking the miraculous victory of the Maccabees, Jewish freedom fighters, over the Seleucidan Greek occupiers in the year 139 BCE. After recapturing Jerusalem’s Holy Temple, which had been converted into a place of idol worship, they searched for pure oil with which to light the Temple menorah. They found just enough to burn for one day, but miraculously it burned for eight days until more oil could be brought.

On each of the eight nights of Chanukah, Jewish people light special menorahs (candelabras), adding another flame each night, until on the eighth night eight flames are burning brightly. The lighting takes place at home, in a doorway or near a window, and is performed after brief blessings are recited. On Chanukah, it is customary to play with dreidels, tops upon which four Hebrew letters, nun, gimmel, hay, and shin, are written. In modern times, communal menorah lightings are often held in public squares, sharing Chanukah’s message of the triumph of light over darkness and freedom to worship God


1941 - Captain Annie Fox receives the first Purple Heart awarded to a woman for her service while under attack at Pearl Harbor.


Esther Peterson in 1997, as head of the Commission on the Status of Women was the most powerful woman in the Kennedy administration, fought for women’s rights, especially improvements in working women’s conditions, awarded the Medal of Freedom from President Carter in 1981

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International Human Rights Day

December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR is a milestone document, which proclaims the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being - regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status. Available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world. The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings. This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to 'Equality' and Article 1 of the UDHR – “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”


1869 - Wyoming is the first territory to give women the right to vote.


Joseph Hayne Rainey, born in Georgetown, S.C., became the first African American person to serve in the US House of Representatives when he was elected to represent South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in 1870. Upon his election, he became the second African American person to have been elected to Congress following Hiram R. Revels, who had been elected to serve as the US Senator from Mississippi earlier that year.


1985 – Wilma Mankiller is sworn in as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma – the first woman in modern history to lead a major Native American tribe.


1961 - President’s Commission on the Status of Women is established to examine discrimination against women and ways to eliminate it.


Las Posadas

Las Posadas is a religious festival that celebrates events associated with the birth of Jesus. It’s primarily celebrated in Latin America, Mexico, Guatemala, Spain, and in the U.S. The celebration itself consists of a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph traveling to different houses that are designated as “inns.” The procession is followed by musicians, and at the end of each night, everyone gathers for a feast.


Happy Birthday, Judith Rodin! (1993)

Judith Rodin is named president of University of Pennsylvania, the first woman to head an Ivy League institution.


Happy Birthday, Harriet Taylor Upton! (1853 -1945)

Harriet joined suffrage movement in 1890 when converted by Susan Anthony, became treasurer of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, testified in Congress, managed suffrage campaigns and ratification drive in Ohio, held positions in the Republican Party, defeated for Congress at age 70.


1865 The Thirteenth Amendment, outlawing slavery, was passed by Congress


Happy Birthday, Judith Heumann (1947-2023)

Judith “Judy” Heumann was an internationally recognized disability rights activist, widely regarded as “the mother” of the Disability Rights Movement. She was a leader in the historic Section 504 Sit-In of 1977 and instrumental in the development and implementation of other disability rights legislation. Judy worked in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, as an advisor at the World Bank, and as a Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation.

At 18-months-old, Judy contracted polio in Brooklyn, New York and began to use a wheelchair for mobility. She was denied the right to attend school at the age of five because she was considered a “fire hazard.” Later in life, Judy was denied her teaching license by the same school district. After passing her oral and written exams, she failed her medical exam because she could not walk. Judy sued the New York Board of Education and Judge Constance Baker Motley (the first Black female federal judge) strongly suggested the board reconsider. They did and Judy went on to become the first wheelchair user to teach in the state of New York.

In 1977, Judy was a leader in the historic 504 Sit-In in San Francisco. This 26-day protest (the longest sit-in at a federal building to date) led to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act being signed into law. Judy was instrumental in the development and implementation of other legislation including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These pieces of legislation have been integral in advancing the inclusion of disabled people in the US and around the world.

From 1993 to 2001, Judy served in the Clinton Administration as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education. Judy then served as the World Bank's first Adviser on Disability and Development from 2002 to 2006. In this position, she led the World Bank's disability work to expand its knowledge and capability to work with governments and civil society on including disability in the global conversation. In 2010, President Obama appointed Judy as the first Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State, where she served until 2017. Mayor Fenty of D.C. appointed Judy as the first Director for the Department on Disability Services, where she was responsible for the Developmental Disability Administration and the Rehabilitation Services Administration. She also was a Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation, where she produced the white paper Road Map for Inclusion.

Judy was a founding member of the Berkeley Center for Independent Living which was the first grassroots center in the United States and helped to launch the Independent Living Movement both nationally and globally. In 1983, Judy co-founded the World Institute on Disability (WID) with Ed Roberts and Joan Leon, as one of the first global disability rights organizations founded and continually led by people with disabilities that works to fully integrate people with disabilities into the communities around them via research, policy, and consulting efforts. Throughout her life, Judy served on a number of non-profit boards, including the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Humanity and Inclusion, Human Rights Watch, United States International Council on Disability, and Save the Children.


Yule Winter Solstice

The Pagan and Wiccan celebration of the Winter Solstice is known as Yule. It’s one of the oldest winter celebrations of the world as seasons and weather played a crucial part in their lives. This day marked the return of the sun when days would begin to get longer


Dongzhi Festival

Dongzhi Festival is a one-day celebration that occurs every year on the winter solstice, between December 21 and 23. This Festival celebrates the season’s turning point toward the warmer, lighter days of spring. It’s a time during the depths of winter to enjoy a hearty, fortifying family meal that raises hopes for spring’s arrival. Dongzhi is a Chinese word that can mean either “winter’s extreme” or “winter’s arrival.” The festival is rooted in the ancient philosophy of yin and yang, which represents harmony and balance in the universe. On the dark winter solstice, negative yin energy is at its peak. From that point on, positive yang energy will grow as spring approaches and the daylight hours lengthen. Although the festival originated in China during the Han Dynasty today it is celebrated by Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese people around the world.


Happy Birthday, Claudia “Lady Bird” Taylor Johnson (1912 -2007)

First Lady (1963-69), advocate for civil rights, National Chair of Head Start, led “Beautification” efforts across the country involving environmentalism, conservation, and anti-pollution.


1863 - Robert Blake, powder boy aboard the U.S.S. Marblelhead, was the first Black person awarded the Medal of Honor “for conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and intrepidity at the risk of his own life” in a battle that occurred off the coast of South Carolina.


Happy Birthday, Martha Wright! (1806 – 1875)

Often known as the first Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls in 1848 with her sister Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Stanton and others, president of women’s conventions in 1855 in Cincinnati, Saratoga, and Albany, a founder of the American Equal Rights Association in 1866, continued working for equal suffrage during Civil War.

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Kwanzaa is a celebration of life inspired by African harvest celebrations. The celebration was created by Maulana Karenga, an American professor of African studies, activist, and author, in 1966. He based it on the traditions from various parts of West and Southeast Africa.

Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday that celebrates African heritage and African-American culture, a celebration of life inspired by African harvest celebrations. The celebration was created by Maulana Karenga, an American professor of African studies, activist, and author, in 1966. He based it on the traditions from various parts of West and Southeast Africa. It is a celebration of African heritage, unity, and cultural identity, providing a meaningful opportunity for African-Americans and others to connect with their roots and express pride in their ancestry. Kwanza is observed from December 26th to January 1st each year, culminating in a festive gathering known as the Karamu Ya Imani (Feast of Faith).

Each of the seven days of Kwanza is dedicated to one of the seven core principles known as the Nguzo Saba and involves various rituals and customs that revolve around the lighting of seven candles, one for each day of the holiday. Each candle represents one of the Nguzo Saba principles, which are:

1. Umoja (Unity): To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, and nation.

2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define and name ourselves, as well as create and speak for ourselves.

3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together, making our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and solving them together.

4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our stores, shops, and other businesses, and to profit from them together.

5. Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

6. Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can in the way we can to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

7. Imani (Faith): To believe with all our hearts in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.


1967 - Muriel Siebert becomes the first woman to own a seat on the N.Y. Stock Exchange.


1777 - George Washington reversed previous policy and allowed the recruitment of Black men as soldiers. Some 5,000 Black men would participate on the American side before the end of the Revolution.

Sources: disabilities-idpd