Diversity Events for January-June 2011
(see also Diversity Events for July-December 2011)
National Mentoring Month
Sponsored by the Harvard Mentoring Project, this observance encourages volunteer mentors to help young people from under-privileged backgrounds reach their full potential. Find out more about National Mentoring Month.
Ellis Island Opens
From 1892 to 1924, this New York Harbor facility served as the gateway to the United States for more than 20 million people. It has been estimated that nearly half of all Americans today can trace their family history to at least one person who passed through Ellis Island. To learn more, visit the Ellis Island web site.
Emancipation Proclamation Anniversary
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed this edict proclaiming that all slaves living within rebelling Confederate states "are, and henceforth shall be, free." Find out more at the National Archives.
Japanese New Year Celebration
To celebrate this important annual holiday in Japan, people send New Year's postcards to friends and relatives (to arrive on New Year's Day), decorate their entrances, wear ceremonial attire, visit shrines, and eat mochi (rice cakes). Find out more at the Japan Guide web site.
George Washington Carver Recognition Day
In commemoration of George Washington Carver’s life and work, Congress declared January 5 as George Washington Carver Recognition Day. Find out more at George Washington Carver Recognition Day.
Christmas Day (Orthodox)
Following the Julian calendar, Greek and Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on or around January 7.
World Religion Day
This day was established to foster interfaith understanding and harmony by emphasizing the commonalities underlying all religions. Read more at World Religion Day web site.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day - Day of Service
This federal holiday honors Reverend King's life and commitment to equality and unity. Celebrated simultaneously, the Day of Service encourages citizens to follow King's words: "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve." Read more at the Martin Luther King web site.
First Native American Senator
On this day in 1907, Charles Curtis, of Kaw, Osage, and Pottawatomie ancestry, was sworn in as the U.S. senator from Kansas. From 1928-1933, he also served the nation as vice president with President Herbert Hoover.
No Name-Calling Week
The goal for this week is to end name calling of all kinds and to provide schools with tools to promote dialogues about ways to eliminate bullying. See the No Name-Calling Week web site.
Black History Month
Begun in 1926 by Black scholar and historian Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month was originally celebrated as a weeklong event. In 1976, Congress expanded the observance to the entire month of February. Visit these sites for Black History resources:
- African-American History Web Sites
- Black History Month Lessons & Resources
- Black Labor History
- National Visionary Leadership Project
Library Lover's Month
During this month, we celebrate libraries of all types and work to ensure that they will continue to serve. Find out more at the Library Support web site.
Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year)
Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. To prepare for this major holiday, people clean their homes, buy new shoes and clothing (especially in red), and get new haircuts. The biggest event is the New Year's dinner, an elaborate meal that celebrates family ties. 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit.
St. Valentine's Day
Associated long ago with the Roman feast of Lupercalia, then with two early Christian martyrs, Valentine's Day is now a day to express affection to those we love. People send cards to each other and give gifts such as candy and flowers. The most familiar image associated with this holiday is a heart.
A little kindness can go a long way toward making someone's day. And you've got a whole week to practice. See monthly calendars for ideas for performing kindnesses every day at Random Acts of Kindness Foundation web site. See also the Help Others web site.
Random Acts of Kindness Week
Frederick Douglass Day
On this day in 1895, the famed African-American abolitionist, editor, orator, author, statesman, and reformer died of a heart attack in his adopted hometown of Washington, D.C.
Observed on the third Monday in February, this Federal holiday celebrates the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Proclaimed by UNESCO's General Conference in November 1999, this annual observance promotes people's uniqueness and cultural diversity by highlighting their mother tongues, many of which are in danger of disappearing. Find out more at the United Nations web site.
International Mother Language Day
W.E.B. DuBois Birthday
American civil rights activist, sociologist, educator, historian, writer, editor, poet, and scholar, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born this day in 1868. He was the first African-American to hold a Doctorate.
Irish American Heritage Month
Céad Mile Fáilte! This month is a time to remember the many ways America is enriched by contributions from people of Irish heritage.
Music in Our Schools Month
All children should have access to music in public schools. Visit MENC: the National Association for Music Education web site for more information.
Women's History Month
In the United States, March is Women's History Month and the celebration of the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. For teaching resources, see Women's History Month for the Classroom and Women's History Month Resources.
March 7-April 15
Eastern Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Lent mark a period of fasting and penitence before Easter.During this period, members of the Eastern Orthodox and Greek Orthodox churches fast and do penance prior to Easter Sunday.
Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday") or Shrove Tuesday, is the last day of feasting before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.
International Women's Day
International Women's Day honors working women everywhere, celebrating their economic, political, and social achievements. This year marks the International Women's Day Centenary, 1911-2011. This day is also the anniversary of the 1857 garment and textile workers' strike in New York, one of the first organized actions by women anywhere.
March 9-April 23Lent is period of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days (Sundays are not included in the count) represents the time Jesus spent in the desert overcoming temptation by Satan. The period of Lent is preparation for the annual commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, celebrated during Holy Week.
Western Christianity Lent
Johnny Appleseed Day
John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, was a planter of orchards and a friend of wild animals. He died on March 11, 1847.
Publication of the First Black Newspaper in America
In 1827, Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm debuted Freedom's Journal, the first African-American-owned and-operated newspaper published in the United States. All 103 issues have been digitized and are available at the Wisconsin Historical Society web site.
Child Abuse Prevention Month
In the early 1980s, Congress resolved that the week of June 6-12, 1982, should be designated as the first National Child Abuse Prevention Month, in commitment to identifying and implementing solutions to child abuse.
National Donate Life Month
Each day in the United States, about 77 people receive an organ transplant, but 19 others die waiting for a donated organ. Learn more at the OrganDonor.gov web site.
April 1-30See The Autism Program (TAP) of Illinois site and the Autism Speaks web site to learn basic information about autism.
Autism Awareness Month
April 2 Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with fundraising and awareness-raising events. See the World Autism Awareness Day web site.
World Autism Awareness Day
April 2 The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) was founded to promote international understanding and good will through books for children and teenagers.
International Children's Book Day
April 10-16 National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) is the nation's largest environmental education event held each year the week before Earth Day, inspires environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. The 2011 annual theme is Ocean Connections.
National Environmental Education Week
April 12 Yuri Gagarin become the first man in space on this date in 1961, when he made a one-hour, 48-minute voyage, orbiting Earth in a spacecraft launched by the Soviet Union.
Anniversary of First Man in Space
April 15-17Youth Service America publishes a set of posters, toolkits, and curricula guides to help you plan your Global Youth Service Day (or Semester of Service!) event.This year's theme is Youth Changing the World. Find out more at the Global Youth Service Day web site.
Global Youth Service Day
Public School Volunteer Week
Encourage parents and community members to sign the online Parental Involvement Pledge at Project Appleseed web site.
Passover or Pesach is an eight-day long celebration during which Jewish families traditionally commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. The highlight of the Passover celebration is the ceremony of Seder performed on the first two evenings of Passover.
April 24 In the Christian faith, Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus's resurrection. Lent, Ash Wednesday, and Holy Week mark a period of spiritual preparation for Easter.
Take Our Daughters & Sons to Work Day
Always the fourth Thursday in April. This program encourages parents to bring their kids to work with them and show them the wide range of jobs available to them. For more information, see the Daughters and Sons to Work web site.
April 30 Día, sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The event was originally proposed by children’s author, Pat Mora.
El día de los niños/El día de los libros/Children's Day
A diverse group whose heritages represent more than 50 ethnic groups and 100 languages, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made enormous contributions to the civic, cultural, and economic fabric of our nation. Read more at these sites:
Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month
- Asians/Pacific Islanders (NEA)
- Library of Congress
- The Art of Asia
- Asia for Educators
- Notable Asian Pacific Americans
Jewish American Heritage Month
On April 20, 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed that May would be Jewish American Heritage Month, recognizing the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to American culture. Read more at these sites:
- Jewish American Heritage Month
- The Library of Congress
- Law Library of Congress: Research Guide
- American Jewish Historical Society
- National Register of Historic Places
Better Hearing and Speech Month
This annual event provides opportunities to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing. Learn more at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association web site.
Holocaust Remembrance Day
The internationally recognized date marks the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah.
National Teacher Day
National Teacher Day is a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives. Congress declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day for that year only. NEA and its affiliates continued to observe National Teacher Day in March until 1985, when the NEA Representative Assembly voted to change the event to Tuesday of the first full week of May. In May of 2009, a bill was introduced in Congress that created a national day of teacher recognition on the first Tuesday of the first full week of May. See National Teacher Day.
National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day
National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day is a day for everyone to promote positive youth development, resilience, recovery, and the transformation of mental health services delivery for children and youth with serious mental health needs and their families. Learn more at the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration web site.
Cinco de Mayo
The anniversary of the unlikely 1862 Mexican victory over the French army at the Battle of La Puebla is more widely celebrated in the United States than in Mexico, where it is considered a regional holiday.
May 8 Mother's Day honors mothers and motherhood.
May 9-15Certain factors may place some children more at risk for stuttering. Knowing these factors will help parents and educators decide whether or not a child needs to see a speech-language pathologist. Learn more at The Stuttering Foundation web site and La Fundación Americana de la Tartamudez (The Stuttering Foundation of America).
National Stuttering Awareness Week
Completion of Transcontinental Railroad in 1869
Considered one of the greatest American technological feats of the 19th century, this effort connected the Atlantic and Pacific coasts by rail for the first time. The prodigious labor was largely provided by army veterans, and Irish and Chinese immigrants.
May 11 School nurses work to promote health and provide the best care possible to students and their families. Take time on this day to look at the difference school nurses make in our schools. See School Nurse Day and learn more about school nurses at the National Association of School Nurses web site.
National School Nurse Day
May 17 On this date in 1954, racial segregation in public schools was unanimously ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, as a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment clause guaranteeing equal protection under the law.
Anniversary of School Desegregation Ruling
Beginning at sunset on the day before (May 18), this Jewish festival celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites.
International Day for Biological Diversity
The United Nations proclaimed May 22 the International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. To learn more, visit the Convention on Biological Diversity web site.
Celebrated by Christians, Pentecost Sunday marks the end of the Easter season in the Christian calendar and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus Christ.
This holiday commemorates American men and women who have died in military service.
During this month we celebrate the ways that Caribbean-Americans have enriched our society and added to the strength of America. For more information visit the Caribbean American Heritage Month web site.
National Caribbean-American Heritage Month
World Environment Day was started in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly. Its purpose is to stimulate worldwide awareness about environmental issues and their impact on humans. This year’s theme is “Life in the Forests.” See the United National Environment Programme web site.
World Environment Day
June 8 Beginning at sunset on the day before (June 7), this Jewish festival celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites.
June 12 Celebrated by Christians, Pentecost Sunday marks the end of the Easter season in the Christian calendar and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus Christ.
This day is dedicated to the adoption of the flag of the United States in 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. For more information, visit the Library of Congress web site.
Anniversary of the First Woman in Space
In June 1963, Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet cosmonaut, became the first woman to fly in space when she orbited Earth 48 times in the spacecraft Vostok 6. A crater on the Moon is named in her honor.
Anniversary of the First American Woman in Space
In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on the shuttle Challenger (STS-7).