Happy New Year! This year, make a resolution to stay timely! Learn more about the wide variety of January Days to Remember, including, observances, holidays, awareness campaigns, and cultural celebrations, and days of remembrance taking place this month.
National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, 1-31
Established in 2010 by presidential proclamation, National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month seeks to educate the American public on the issues surrounding forced labor, domestic servitude, and sex trafficking, as well as involve the larger community in developing solutions to curb slavery and human trafficking in all its forms. In addition, January 11 has been established nationally as Human Trafficking Awareness Day (see below). To learn more or to get help, visit the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
Sunday, January 5
Wyoming’s Nellie Tayloe Ross inaugurated as the first woman governor in the United States
After Governor William Ross died of appendicitis in 1924, his wife, Nellie Tayloe Ross, was persuaded to run in the subsequent special election and won. (Note that Wyoming was the first state to ratify women’s’ suffrage 55 years earlier.) On January 5, 1925, she was sworn in as Governor, becoming the first woman governor in the U.S. While she ultimately lost her re-election bid in 1926, she continued to break through barriers by becoming the first woman director of the U.S. Mint. To this day she remains Wyoming’s only female governor. Learn more about Nellie Tayloe Ross at WyoHistory.org.
Monday, January 6
Mildred and Richard Loving plead guilty to being married
On this day in 1959, Mildred Loving (a black woman) and Richard Loving (a white man) pled guilty to violating Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws. The couple avoided a prison sentence by agreeing to leave their Virginia town for at least 25 years, eventually settling in Washington, D.C., where interracial marriage was already legalized. Their desire to simply visit their families in their hometown set up what would eventually become Loving v. Virginia (1967), the landmark Supreme Court case which ensured the legal recognition of interracial marriages throughout the United States. Learn more about the Lovings, their court battle, and the annual celebration of the Supreme Court decision on the Loving Day website.
Friday, January 10
National Woman’s Party picketers appear in front of the White House
On this date in 1917, members of the National Woman’s Party, an organization originally dedicated to advocating for women’s suffrage, began what would eventually become more than two years of protest at the White House. Known as the “Silent Sentinels,” these women could often be seen holding banners asking, “Mr. President, What Will You Do For Woman Suffrage?” and “How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty?” The Silent Sentinels became known for their persistence in protest, picketing during bad weather, the incarceration of various members, and political shifts that occurred as a result of American participation in World War I.
Saturday, January 11
Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Taking place during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month (see above) and observed by business, governmental, and non-governmental organizations, Human Trafficking Awareness Day seeks to focus attention, awareness, and advocacy efforts against human trafficking worldwide.
Monday, January 20
Celebration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday
Formally established in 1983 by Ronald Reagan (caving to more than 15 years of advocacy), MLK, Jr.’s birthday is annually recognized on the third Monday in January. As set out by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the goal of this day is not just to look back on the work of the legendary civil rights leader, but to also “…empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a ‘Beloved Community’.” Organizations throughout the country have established dedicated days of service in honor of this mission. To learn more about them, check out the CNCS website. Also, learn more about the King family and their amazing history of advocacy and nonviolence and you’ll see why this is one of our favorite January days to celebrate!
Wednesday, January 22
Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
2020 marks the 47th anniversary of the landmark abortion rights case, but decades of conservative judicial appointments plus the passage of various pieces of restrictive legislation have left abortion rights in this country in serious danger. Learn how you too can fight back through education and advocacy: read more about the historic case, the current state of reproductive rights, the global gag rule, and actions you can take to secure abortion rights.
Saturday, January 25
First National Conference on the Care of Dependent Children Held
Held at the White House every decade for 70 years, the National Conferences on Child Welfare were important tools in helping to define child welfare laws. The first of these conferences was held in 1909. Over the years, these conferences would touch on many topics regarding child welfare, including the importance of sex education in schools. The last conference was held in 1970, although there have been efforts to revive them.
Sunday, January 26
Birth of Angela Davis
Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1944, noted author, educator, politician, and activist, Angela Davis, eventually relocated to Massachusetts to pursue a degree at Brandeis University. While there, her interest in philosophy and activism grew, anchored in part by the 1963 murder of four girls in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she expressed interest in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party and the American Communist Party. Davis has always been a strong advocate against the prison-industrial complex. In 1970, her advocacy efforts in this area took a more personal turn as the FBI placed her on their “most wanted” list as the firearms used in the Marin County courthouse incident were registered to her (though she was not directly involved in the fatal incident). She was incarcerated for 18 months, becoming something of a cause célèbre. Ultimately, she was acquitted in 1972. An educator, her political views lead to her being dismissed from UCLA in 1968 (an action supported by none other than future president Ronald Reagan), and an attempt to keep her from teaching in the Cal State university system was thwarted, as she began teaching at San Francisco State University in 1979. Since then she has been a professor at UC Santa Cruz and has lectured at universities around the world. An author of six books, in 1997 she helped found Critical Resistance, an organization dedicated to ending the prison-industrial complex nationwide. You can see why her life is one of the most monumental of January days to remember and celebrate. Learn more about Angela Davis in her own words.
Sen. Stacey Campfield Proclaims that “AIDS Can’t Be Transmitted Via Heterosexual Sex”
Ah, (former) Senator Campfield. As a member of Congress, he was known for introducing many inflammatory pieces of legislation and for making several provocative statements. Case in point: in 2012 the senator from Tennessee was interviewed on journalist and radio host Michelangelo Signorile’s radio show. When the topic of HIV/AIDS came up, Sen. Campfield (incorrectly) asserted that “My understanding is that it is virtually – not completely, but virtually – impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex…very rarely.” He also stated erroneous beliefs about the introduction of the HIV virus to humans. While none of this makes January 26 a day for celebrating, it does make it one for reflection, and to stress the importance of education. Learn more about HIV/AIDS transmission, prevention, and testing here. To learn more about the long history of HIV/AIDS advocacy, check out this post.
Tuesday, January 28
Iceland Becomes First Western Nation to Legalize Abortion (1935)
In 1935, Iceland became the first Western country to legalize “therapeutic” abortion. (Note that both Mexico and Poland had legalized abortion in certain circumstances a few years before.) Known as Law No. 38, it stated that “social indications” were “valid” to request abortion for up to 8-12 weeks. A woman could have an abortion up to 28 weeks for medical reasons. Abortions had to be carried out at specific, registered facilities with two doctors present.
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