August 31st

International Day for People of African Descent -

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The International Day for People of African Descent is observed annually on August 31. Established by the United Nations General Assembly, it aims to promote the extraordinary contributions of the African diaspora around the world and to eliminate all forms of discrimination against people of African descent.

The day serves not only as a celebration of the diverse heritage, culture, and achievements of people of African descent but also as a platform to highlight the ongoing struggles against racism and discrimination that many still face.

History of International Day for People of African Descent

The UN General Assembly officially recognized the significance of the contributions and experiences of the African diaspora by instituting an annual observance on the last day of August, beginning at the close of 2020. This observance—designated by a resolution passed in mid-December that year—aims to appreciate the vast cultural heritage of individuals with African roots and to address the persistent social challenges they encounter.

This endeavor is rooted in a broader historical context. The complex legacy of colonial history, the transatlantic trade of enslaved persons, and ongoing structural disparities have necessitated a focus on the rights of individuals with African ancestry. With the UN’s creation of a specific working group nearly two decades ago, and the decade spanning 2015 to 2024 dedicated to emphasizing recognition, justice, and development for this global community, the commitment to this cause has been clear.

With the establishment of this specific day, the UN spotlights several vital goals. These include fostering knowledge of the considerable impact of African diaspora cultures on global development, celebrating such diverse heritages and cultural expressions, and advocating for the absolute enjoyment of rights across all spheres of life for people of African descent. Moreover, it stands as a call to dismantle racial prejudices and to foster equality.

Events around the world have rallied in support of these aims, creating platforms for dialogue and initiatives focusing on progress for African-descendent populations. Looking into the broader struggle for justice and equity, the establishment of this day signals an ongoing commitment to confronting historical injustices and building a fairer society. It underscores the necessity of sustained efforts to eradicate racism and uphold human rights inclusively.

International Day for People of African Descent Timeline

Reign of Mansa Musa

Mansa Musa ascends the throne of the Mali Empire, which becomes one of the most powerful and wealthiest empires in African history.

First Slaves in the New World

A Spanish expedition brings the first African slaves to present-day South Carolina, predating the establishment of Jamestown.

Haitian Revolution Begins

The Haitian Revolution begins, which will eventually lead to the first successful slave revolt and the establishment of Haiti as a free republic.

Emancipation Proclamation

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all slaves in Confederate territory are to be set free.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' Speech

Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his iconic 'I Have a Dream' speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

End of Apartheid

Nelson Mandela is elected in South Africa's first fully representative democratic election, marking the end of the apartheid regime.

First Black President of the United States

Barack Obama is elected as the 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the office.

Proclamation of the International Day for People of African Descent

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed August 31st as the International Day for People of African Descent.

Ideas to Celebrate International Day for People of African Descent

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Cultural Festival

Organize a cultural festival that showcases the rich heritage and contributions of people of African descent. Include dance performances, traditional music, art exhibitions, and African cuisine tastings. This could be a community-wide event where people immerse themselves in the diverse cultures of the African diaspora.

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Educational Workshop

Host a series of workshops focusing on the history, struggles, and achievements of people of African descent. Invite historians, scholars, and community leaders to lead discussions, and consider topics like African civilizations, the impact of the diaspora, and present-day challenges and triumphs.

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Movie Night Marathon

Curate a selection of films and documentaries that celebrate African heritage and highlight the accomplishments of individuals of African descent across various fields. Create a marathon event where these films are shown, possibly in an outdoor setting, accompanied by discussions or Q&A sessions with filmmakers or experts in Afro-centric studies.

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Art and Literature Exhibition

Hold an exhibition featuring artists and authors of African descent. This could include a variety of mediums such as paintings, sculptures, photography, as well as readings of poetry and literature. Aim to highlight the diversity within African-descended communities and the breadth of their contributions to the arts.

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Panel Discussion on Inclusion

Organize a panel comprising people of African descent from various sectors such as business, science, government, and entertainment to discuss the importance of inclusion. Focus on how diversity strengthens society and the need for systemic changes to achieve equality.

7 Interesting Facts About People of African Descent


Cradle of Humankind

The earliest known ancestors of modern humans were found in Africa. Fossils discovered in Ethiopia, South Africa, and other parts of the continent have provided evidence that Homo sapiens evolved there approximately 300,000 years ago, making Africa the 'Cradile of Humankind'.


Influence on Global Music

People of African descent have had a profound impact on global music genres. Jazz, blues, reggae, hip hop, and samba are just a few examples of music styles that originated within African diaspora communities and have shaped the world's musical landscape.


Superheroes in Comics and Film

Black Panther, a superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, was the first superhero of African descent in mainstream American comics. The character and the subsequent 2018 film adaptation brought global attention to Afrofuturism and the representation of Africans and their descendants in media.


Hairstyle Heritage

African hairstyles are not just about fashion; they often carry symbolic meanings and can reflect a person’s family background, tribe, social status, and even marital status. Styles like cornrows, Bantu knots, and dreadlocks have deep historical significance dating back centuries.


Olympic Excellence

Athletes of African descent have dominated in various sports at the Olympic Games. In particular, sprinters from countries such as Jamaica have consistently won medals in short-distance track events, setting world records and captivating audiences with their speed and athleticism.


Cultural Diversity

Africa is the second-largest continent in the world and is incredibly diverse, with over 3,000 distinct ethnic groups and over 2,000 languages spoken. People of African descent have preserved and adapted their diverse cultural legacies around the world.


Historical Kingdoms

Africa was home to several wealthy and powerful kingdoms throughout history, such as the Mali Empire, which was one of the richest empires in the world during the 14th century thanks to its abundant gold mines. Mansa Musa, the ruler of the Mali Empire, is considered one of the wealthiest individuals in history.

International Day for People of African Descent FAQs

Next International Day for People of African Descent Dates

Year Date Day
2023 August 31st Thursday
2024 August 31st Saturday
2025 August 31st Sunday
2026 August 31st Monday
2027 August 31st Tuesday
What is the pattern? Every August 31st

International Day for People of African Descent Word Search

  • African
  • Unity
  • Diversity
  • Culture
  • Ancestry
  • Diaspora