January Dates in History

As we start in 2021, Poverty in America Awareness month reminds us of the challenges that 2020 brought to so many in America. With more than 40 million Americans living in poverty, the various manifestations of poverty are complex and often intertwined. Some manifestations that readily come to mind that play a common role in poverty are food scarcity, education, housing, healthcare, safety, and justice.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the action of human beings.” In SWFL, we have many community organizations that are avidly working to eradicate this social issue. Some like Harry Chapin Food Bank, Community Cooperative, Boys and Girls Club, Salvation Army, Our Mother’s Home, ACT Center, and Pine Manor Improvement Association we are familiar with as we have partnered with them in recent years for our community impact projects. Here are some other community organizations playing a part in eradicating the impacts of poverty:

• Affordable Home Ownership Foundation Inc • A Voice in the Wilderness Empowerment Center • Blessings in a Backpack • Cafe of Life • Cape Coral Caring Center • Children’s Network of Southwest Florida • Dr. Piper Center for Social Services • Earn to Learn FL • Goodwill Industries of Southwest Florida • Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit • Habitat for Humanity • The Heights Foundation • I WILL Mentorship Foundation • Interfaith Charities of South Lee • LARC • Lee Building Industry Association Builders Care • Lee County Homeless Coalition • Lee County Legal Aid Society • Lifeline Family Center • Lighthouse of SWFL • Literary Council Gulf Coast • Pace Center for Girls, Lee County • Pickup the Ball • Quality of Life Center • Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Light Conference • YMCA

After Poverty in America Awareness Month kicks off on January 1, World Braille Day follows on January 4 to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication for blind and partially sighted people. To learn more: https://brailleworks.com/what-is-world-braille-day/.

Next, Jan 18 marks Martin Luther King Jr Day, which celebrates the life and legacy of the Civil Right’s leader. As the unquestioned leader of the civil rights movement that began in the mid-1950s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr had a seismic impact on race relations. He played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the United States, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. His message of change by peaceful means, such as sit-ins, boycotts, and marches, drew people to the civil rights movement from all across the US. Driven to bring greater equality for America, Dr. King worked tirelessly to ensure the civil rights of all, regardless of race. His legacy endures in his message of equality and nonviolence. The words “I have a dream…” still remind us of the vision of racial equality and the work that is still needed to achieve it.

The deaths and violence against people of color culminating in mass protests this summer, remind us of the systemic inequities. structural bias, and far too often blatant racism that America still struggles with. While Dr. King began the work for racial equality, since the passing of the Voting Rights Act the struggle to maintain and ideally further the progressive actions begun by Dr. King have been shown to be inadequate with the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd along with far too many others. We still need to finish turning the mountain of despair that has been racial inequity into a stone of hope. We need to get to the mountain top and let freedom ring true.

Holocaust Remembrance Day, occurring on January 27, was designated by the United Nations in 2005 to commemorate the memory of the 6 million victims of the Holocaust. The date is marked as a time to “mourn the loss of lives, celebrate those who saved them, honor those who survived, and contemplate the obligations of the living.” according to former President Barack Obama. The date is also further intended to encourage ongoing education of the lessons of the Holocaust, refute any denial, even in part, of the Holocaust as a historical event, commend nations that have preserved sites used by the Nazis, and condemns all manifestations of religious or ethnic intolerance. To learn more about the International Holocaust Remembrance Day or the lessons of the Holocaust visit Had Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center: https://www.yadvashem.org or the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: https://www.ushmm.org. “The Holocaust, which established the standard for absolute evil, is the universal heritage of all civilized people..” and it must be remembered so that it is not repeated.