Honoring humanity creates an equitable and just society.
History matters. Not only does it show where we have been, it explains why things are the way they are. When it comes to building a more equitable and just world for everyone, everyday actions -- the large and the small -- matter. The Washington State Office of Equity honors the contributions of the Black Community who, through their actions, made this state and nation a better place to live. We appreciate the everyday actions -- the large and the small – the Black Community takes to live, love, and thrive in safety and authenticity.
Significant Anniversaries in the Black Community
- January (Third Monday of the month) – Martin Luther King Day: Time to celebration the life of Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the impact he made in America and globally.
- February – Black History Month: Though we should learn about history throughout the year, February is time to reflect intentionally on the contributions of the Black Community to American life.
- June 12 – Loving Day: Celebration of the end of anti-miscegenation laws and the ban on interracial marriage. Supreme Court Case Loving v. Virginia.
- June 19 – Juneteenth: Celebration of the freeing of the last Black people still enslaved in Texas.
- Dec. 26-Jan. 1 – Kwanzaa: Time for Black Americans to reflect on their heritage, community and connection to Africa.
Milestone Laws for the Black Community
- 13th Amendment – Ratified in 1865; abolished slavery, except for as punishment of a crime, in America.
- 14th Amendment – Ratified in 1868; strengthened protections for newly freed Black people by establishing equal protections for all.
- 15th Amendment – ratified in 1870; provided legal protections that gave newly freed Black people the right to vote.
- Brown v Board of Education – This U.S. Supreme Court decision came down in 1954 and ended legal segregation in U.S. schools. This began the process of ended all legalized segregation, Jim Crow.
- Civil Rights Act of 1964 – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as amended, protects employees and job applicants from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Title VII protection covers the full spectrum of employment decisions, including recruitment, selections, terminations and other decisions concerning terms and conditions of employment. This law strengthened protections for Black Americans in employment.
- Civil Rights Act of 1968 – This was a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and is also known as the Fair Housing Act. This law prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and family status.
Notable Milestones: Black Firsts
- Barack Obama – January 2008, Barack Obama was sworn in as America’s first Black President.
- National Museum of African American History and Culture – A Smithsonian museum that opened to the public on Sept. 24, 2016 and is America’s most comprehensive collection of history from the Black perspective.
- Legacy Museum opened April 26, 2018 and captures America’s past of lynching of Black people.
- National Memorial for Peace and Justice opened April 26, 2018 and is dedicated to the history of Black people from slavery through Jim Crow.
- Juneteenth established as a federal holiday (2021) and Washington state holiday (2022).
- Historical Accomplishments
- Additional Black Firsts
- Timeline of Significant Events through 2008
So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they become inevitable. Christopher Reeves
All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you. The only lasting truth is change. Octavia Butler