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L'ÉPOQUE celebrates the International Day for People of African Descent 2023

L'ÉPOQUE USA - Every August 31st, the world comes together through the UN International Day for People of African Descent to honor the shared heritage, diverse culture, and profound influence of Africans and the global African diaspora.


08.31.2023 © L'ÉPOQUE USA


By Barbara Robinson


Video message by Mojankunyane Gumbi on the occasion of the International Day for People of African Descent 2023


African culture is one of the most diverse cultural landscapes. From the extensive history of artistic creation to the many contributions to human civilization, African communities have always had a marking presence, despite a history of exclusion and hardships. Diversity is one of the main characteristics of African culture. It is a rich cultural landscape, which varies from one place to another. There are many cultures, tribes, languages, and traditions present throughout African nations.


The African diaspora has long been known for its spirit and contributions to the arts, culture, science and other fields, and continues to have a distinct presence and positive influence in various parts of the world. On this day, we honor a vibrant culture and an international community and celebrate their values and contributions. This day also serves as an opportunity to raise global awareness about the challenges of systemic racism, discrimination, and exclusion faced by individuals of African descent worldwide.


Over the past decades, many efforts have been made to highlight the issues facing African communities and people of African descent around the world and to improve the situation of many of these communities. This holiday is a reminder that many communities around the world still face issues of social injustice and exclusion. Despite the numerous initiatives and efforts, many of these issues are worthy of attention.


According to UN, there are approximately 200 million people in the Americas who self-identify as of African descent. Many millions more live in other parts of the world, outside of the African continent. Whether as descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade or as more recent migrants, they constitute some of the poorest and most marginalized groups.


For centuries, people of African descent were marginalized as part of the legacy of slavery and colonialism. There is a growing consensus that racism and racial discrimination have caused people of African descent to be held back in many aspects of public life. They have suffered exclusion and poverty and are often ’invisible‘ in official statistics. There has been progress, but the situation persists, to varying degrees, in many parts of the world.


International Day for People of African Descent 2023
International Day for People of African Descent 2023.

By commemorating this day, UN hopes to further strengthen the pillars of the International Decade for People of African Descent - recognition, justice and development. The commemoration day also aims to give people the opportunity to learn more about African heritage and culture through film, dance, music and art performances organized on the vacation, as well as other manifestations of the political and scientific contributions of people of African descent.


In December 2022, President Biden issued an executive order to create the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement in the United States. In June 2022, he appointed Desirée Cormier Smith as the inaugural Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice at the State Department. Since then, she has diligently coordinated the Department’s efforts to combat global anti-Black racism and advance the human rights of individuals from marginalized racial, ethnic, and Indigenous communities worldwide through our foreign policy.


On 26 January 2023, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Mojankunyane Gumbi of South Africa as Special Adviser for Addressing Racism in the Workplace. The Special Adviser will provide strategic advice to the Secretary-General on addressing racism and racial discrimination, as well as oversee the implementation of the long-term Strategic Action Plan adopted by the Organization in 2022 to address racism in the workplace. Following the adoption of the Strategic Action Plan, every Secretariat entity was asked to develop and implement its own action plan, while an Implementation Steering Group under the leadership and stewardship of the Special Adviser will monitor and guide corporate-level actions to implement the Strategic Action Plan. An Anti-Racism Team has been established to support the Special Adviser.


The International Day for People of African Descent reminds us of the resilience and determination of individuals of African descent in their pursuit of fundamental human rights. We are reminded of the historical achievements and ongoing struggles faced by people of African descent, coming as it does during the Decade for People of African Descent.


«People of African descent often face the challenges of poverty and marginalisation. Yet their stories testify to the rich multicultural heritage they nurture, as well as their notable contributions across various fields. In this, the year we mark the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the need for unity and collaboration strikes us more urgently than ever before», said H.R.H. Prince Nereides Antonio Giamundo de Bourbon, Cultural Diplomat and Editor-in-Chief of L'ÉPOQUE.


International Day for People of African Descent 2023
International Day for People of African Descent 2023.

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT TIMELINE


1831

Early Abolitionist Movement

The abolitionist movement is one of the hallmarks of African-American history and a precursor to Black liberation movements.


1909

N.A.A.C.P. Is Established

The N.A.A.C.P. is one of the most significant foundations in preserving African American heritage in the U.S.


1965

Civil Rights Movements

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leads the civil rights movement into a pivotal historical moment for African Americans.


1994

Mandela As President

Nelson Mandela wins the first post-Apartheid general elections in South Africa, becoming its first Black president.


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