Like MLK, These Black Revolutionaries Also Need To Have Their Own National Holiday

Like MLK, These Black Revolutionaries Also Need To Have Their Own National Holiday

It's time to recognize all kinds of Black excellence on a much bigger scale.

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Every year, the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is honored with a national holiday that symbolizes his quest for racial equality, justice and change. However, we here The Root believe that there are many other Black activists, authors and thinkers who also should be recognized in an equally big way. Here are a few who deserve their flowers as well by having their birthdays turned into national holidays as well.

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Malcolm X

Malcolm X

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Malcolm X reimagined what freedom looked like for Black people during the Civil Rights Movement. He was a proud Black nationalist and a Nation of Islam member. Malcolm X knew that peaceful protests wouldn’t always prevent violence against Black people who demanded equality and change. He famously encouraged his followers achieve this by “any means necessary.”

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James Baldwin

James Baldwin

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James Baldwin’s powerful voice was one that heavily impacted the Civil Rights Movement. He famously moved to Paris in 1948 after coming to the realization that he didn’t belong in Harlem. Baldwin covered the complexities of race, class and sexuality with works like Nobody Knows My Name, The Fire Next Time and Giovanni’s Room. He empowered Black folks to unapologetically live their truth regardless if it ruffles feathers.

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bell hooks

bell hooks

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bell hooks is known for her pivotal written works that center Black feminist thought. Her catalog includes notable works like Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism, Feminist Theory from Margin to Center, Killing Rage: Ending Racism and We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity. hooks used her voice to push feminism outside the realm of whiteness and examine societal constructs that limit Black women.

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Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale Hurston’s catalog provided crucial commentary on the plight of Black America. One of her most famous works, Their Eyes Were Watching God, talks about the unique limitations placed on Black women. Hurston also explored themes of race, gender and class through her works, which were often deemed controversial.

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Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

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Frederick Douglass, who was formerly enslaved, was known for his ability to captivate audiences with his speeches as well as his written work. He used his platforms to fight for social and racial justice. One of his most famous speeches, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?,” called out the hypocrisy of the holiday since slaveholders were celebrating freedom.

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Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells

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Ida B. Wells used her voice as a journalist to report on the horrific reality of lynching. She also fought to prevent anti-Black violence. “In lynching, opportunity is not given to the negro to defend himself against the unsupported accusations of white women and men,” Wells once wrote. Through her research, she found that more than 10,000 Black people were murdered by lynching and started a campaign to end it.

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W.E.B. Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois

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W.E.B. Du Bois fought passionately for Black folks to have full civil rights. In The Souls of Black Folk explored the unique intersection of being a part of the Black community while still being rejected as Americans by white people. “One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro, two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings,” Du Bois wrote. In his 90's, he wound up moving to Accra, Ghana and became a Ghanian citizen two years before his death.

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Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison

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Ralph Ellison, most famously known for his novel The Invisible Man, used his works to combine the elements of history, music and philosophy to portray the Black experience. “I’m an invisible man and it placed me in a hole—or showed me the hole I was in, if you will—and I reluctantly accepted the fact,” he wrote about racial stereotypes in the book. Ellison’s words still strongly resonate today.

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Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

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Maya Angelou encapsulated the Black women experience through seven autobiographies. Before she became a writer, Angelou had several jobs including an actress, sex worker, nightclub performer and foreign correspondent. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings tells some of her stories and made her a public figure of Black people. The Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient also worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X during the Civil Rights Movememt.

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Medgar Evers

Medgar Evers

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Medgar Evers worked tirelessly to speak out against the racism that was prevalent in the South. He spoke out against Jim Crow laws as well as segregation in schools. Evers was also the NAACP’s first field officer in Mississippi. He also started an investigation into the lynching of Emmett Till. He was pivotal in organizing marches, prayer vigils and boycotts.

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Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

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Rosa Parks was key in the Civil Rights Movement when she refused to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955. This decision inspired the well-known Montgomery Bus Boycott. It was led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and went on for more than a year. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional. Throughout the course of her life, Parks continued to fight for racial equality and social justice.

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John Lewis

John Lewis

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For four decades, John Lewis fought for human rights and participated in notable civil rights movements. He organized sit-in demonstrations and participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides. Lewis was severely beaten several times for taking part in the rides. From 1963 to 1966, Lewis served as the Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which he helped start. Lewis was elected to Congress in November 1986 and served as a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

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Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Carmichael

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Stokely Carmichael, the Black nationalist who was behind the Black Power Movement, began his work by becoming involved in student protest groups including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Congress of Racial Equality (which organized the 1961 Freedom Rides). He eventually became a full time organizer and became a target of the FBI’s COINTELPRO due to his work with the militant Black Panther Party. Carmichael also promoted Pan-African unity.

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Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer

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Fannie Lou Hamer dedicated her life passionately fighting for civil rights. In 1964, she helped start the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which was founded in opposition to the state’s all-white delegation to that year’s Democratic convention. In her political activist efforts, Hamer also ran for Congress in Mississippi, but was unsuccessful. She also worked to secure business opportunities for marginalized communities, founded Freedom Farm Cooperative for Black farmers and fought for low-income housing.

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Whitney M. Young Jr.

Whitney M. Young Jr.

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Whitney M. Young Jr. became the Executive Director of the National Urban League in 1962. It provided housing assistance, job training, health care and social services. Young led the organization in a new direction which advocated for civil rights and equality. He expanded the size of the National Urban League as he oversaw the racial integration of corporate workplaces. In 1969, Young received The Medal of Freedom and was the co-author of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.

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