Why Black Women Deserve A National Holiday
Let's start with Ida B. Wells-Barnett.
July 16, 2020 at 6:24 pm
I am no stranger to the bravery, strength and courage of Black women. I grew up with these women and they’ve shaped the man I am today. This is not unique to me though; everybody knows an incredible Black woman. Everyone.
Whether it’s your mama, grandma, auntie, sister, good girlfriend or your own “bae,” everyone has been touched by the majesty of Black women — including America.
Black women have always been the vanguards of holding America accountable and ensuring it is what it claims to be: a land of possibility, equality, and liberty and justice for all. From slavery until now, Black women have worked tirelessly to have these ideals realized for all of America. Yet, we don’t have a holiday to honor Black women in this country. It’s time for that to change.
As America is reckoning with its history of economic, racial and reproductive injustice, we should use this opportunity to advance policies that will measurably improve the lives of the most vulnerable among us. Along with that, we should establish a national holiday in honor of Black women — a day that commemorates the contributions of Black women in this country, and we should start with Ida B. Wells-Barnett.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a journalist, educator and civil rights leader that risked her life to expose the atrocities of Black lynchings during the 19th and early 20th century. She exposed the violence of white southerners that decried “rape” (of white women) to justify the killing of 4,000 Black people between 1877 and 1950. Her writings were among the earliest that recorded these horrors that went unpunished and were, arguably, sanctioned by America.
Unfortunately, the violence and terror that Wells-Barnett faced in reporting these atrocities are still with us today. This has put her life and legacy squarely into focus for me.
Wells once said, “the way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them,” and countless Black women have risked their lives and the lives of their families to shine that light. For this reason, among many, we should establish a national holiday to honor Ida B. Wells-Barnett and the litany of Black women that have truly contributed to forming a more perfect union in this imperfect country.
Women like Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Claudette Colvin, Diane Nash and Angela Davis (just to name a few) risked life and limb in fighting for freedom in all its forms. We need a day to honor their contributions in order for us to truly reckon with this moment and reconcile our country’s past transgressions against Black people. Indeed, these women are the fuel that keeps us all going amid the plethora of injustices we continue to face.
We, at Make It Work Nevada, are creating the change we want to see this world. We’re recognizing the birthday of Ida B. Wells-Barnett (July 16) through public education of her life and legacy. As well, we’re observing her birthday with a paid day off to rest and self-preserve as we honor the legacy of all Black women by continuing to advance the causes of economic, racial and reproductive justice in America.