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National Black Literacy Day – February 14, 2023

National Black Literacy Day is celebrated annually on February 14. If you want to participate in the event on February 14, you can do so by contributing to literacy programs in your neighborhood. Make a financial contribution to a Chicago Literacy Alliance member organization, volunteer at your local Y.M.C.A’s literacy or mentorship program, or make a donation to Semicolon’s #ClearTheShelves campaign. And don’t forget to spend some quality time reading with a child in your life to help them discover the pleasures of reading.

History of National Black Literacy Day

The summer of 2019 saw the opening of Chicago’s first Black woman-owned bookstore. Semicolon has acted as a lively and active cultural hub, as well as a gallery space throughout its years. D.L. Mullen, the owner of the Semicolon, has been looking for new and innovative ways to give back to her community. She organized a campaign dubbed #ClearTheShelves, to foster a lifelong love of reading among Chicago schoolchildren through the distribution of free books at an event in May.

To recognize these efforts and to help readers in low-literacy neighborhoods, Mullen has advocated for a national holiday. She chose Valentine’s Day with consideration, hoping that people will share her sentiments. It also happens to coincide with the birthday of American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and it is the focal point of Black History Month in many ways. She has gained the endorsement of Chicago Mayor Lightfoot, who made an official proclamation in her support.

Mullen had to gain clearance for the holiday to be listed before she could submit a request to the mayor’s office. Once the holiday was listed, Mullen could submit a request to the mayor’s office. While both the mayor and the governor can issue a proclamation, formal recognition as a holiday in Illinois would have to be obtained through legislative action.

National Black Literacy Day timeline

3500 B.C.
Written Communication

A limited percentage of people can read and write at the time of the first written communication.

23 B.C.
First Books

The first known books are found in Rome.

1920s
High Literacy in the United States

Literacy rates reach as high as 70% in some parts of the United States.

2019
Opening of Semicolon

Semicolon, the first female-owned black woman bookstore, opens in Chicago.

National Black Literacy Day FAQs

Why is a Literacy Day important?

In today’s world, there is a pressing need for education and a well-educated populace. The holiday is also used to draw attention to the plight of those who lack even the most basic of educational foundations.

What is the significance of literacy in the early years of a child's life?

Early literacy entails helping youngsters develop a wide vocabulary, the ability to express themselves, and the ability to comprehend what they read. These abilities prepare a youngster for kindergarten by inspiring a love of reading and a desire to learn new things.

To what end is literacy a necessity?

The future of society can be improved by teaching someone to read and write fluently or to learn the fundamentals of math. Individual and community well-being are directly linked to literacy, which is essential to economic growth.

National Black Literacy Day Activities

  1. Read a book by a black author

    You can celebrate National Black Literacy Day by reading a book by a black author. Fiction or nonfiction, take your pick and decide any genre you want by any black person who has authored a book in that category.

  2. Support a black-owned bookstore

    To an avid reader, a bookstore is not just a place to read books, it is a wonderful world that unlocks limitless creativity and possibilities. Look for a bookstore in your neighborhood and support a local business today.

  3. Donate books

    Book and resource donations to literacy-focused groups are encouraged. This way you can play your part to contribute to black literacy organizations.

5 Interesting Facts About Literacy

  1. Life-changing

    Literacy can have a profound impact on a person's life.

  2. Third grade

    A high school graduation rate of 89% is achieved by students who can read effectively by the third grade.

  3. Revolutionary

    Reading is a revolutionary act in communities of color.

  4. Encourages a love of community

    It encourages people to develop the love of community in the minds of readers through the use of literacy.

  5. 75%

    75% of children will struggle to read for the rest of their lives if they haven’t caught up by the time they are nine.

Why We Love National Black Literacy Day

  1. We understand financial literacy

    Citizens with a higher level of education are better knowledgeable about financial investments and other economic fundamentals. Understanding concepts that appear more difficult when we don't grasp them is made easier by literacy.

  2. It helps in alleviating poverty

    Literacy is a powerful tool for alleviating poverty. An enormous disadvantage is having little knowledge of the fundamentals of reading and writing. Having the ability to read and write not only improves one's quality of life but also gives one the chance to learn new skills that will help them support themselves and their families.

  3. It has an impact on society

    Literacy has a positive effect on the growth of the entire society. Both males and females can contribute to the economy and community when literacy levels are improved.

National Black Literacy Day dates

YearDateDay
2023February 14Tuesday
2024February 14Wednesday
2025February 14Friday
2026February 14Saturday
2027February 14Sunday

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