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    Celebrating Black Love Day

    On Valentine's Day the stores are washed over in pink, the flower shops are bustling, there are chocolate hearts everywhere. The holiday is regarded with mixed feelings amongst nearly everyone at some point in their lives, especially when one finds him or herself re-visiting the holiday single, swigging a bottle of cheap wine (or overeating on chocolates that you bought yourself) and feeling left out. Shouldn't there be something more?

    Luckily, the answer is yes! On February 13th, a premature version of Valentine's Day, Black Love Day is celebrated amongst the black community (although if you are not black, who's to say you can't also celebrate it?). This is a commemorative holiday or "wholly" day of observance, celebration, reconciliation, forgiveness, atonement, and demonstration of love within and for the Black community.

    The concept of Black Love Day was established in 1993, by Ms. Ayo Kendi. She felt the need in the community for more expressions of "black love" among those in the community. She organized the first Black Love Day in public observance in Northeast, Washington, DC. "When we act, we actively bring love in our community," said Kendi. And that is precisely what she did on February 13, 1993. On a warm New Year's Eve day 14 years ago, after watching Spike Lee's film, "Malcolm X," Kendi received her calling. "When I watched the movie version of Malcolm being riddled by bullets by a Black man, tears just came to my eyes," said Kendi. "I was speaking out loud to myself saying, 'Lord, Lord, we have so much violence in my community, how we just killed Malcolm like that.' And I remember saying to myself, 'Lord God, what can I do to stop violence and increase peace?'"

    Her idea and vision was happily accepted by the public and the media at its first celebration. With this success, the following year, Black Love Day became an official day of recognition, observance and celebration by Mayoral Proclamation in DC. Black Love Day is meant to celebrate all black relationships...from self-love first to love for the family, love for the community, and finally love for the Creator. Instead of pink or red, the popular colors for Black Love Day are purple for spirituality or black which is a blend of all colors.

    "Offer forgiveness, bond, be mindful, sit down and have a family meal, send a letter, visit a gravesite to express love for them or set up an ancestral alter. Make that call that you haven't made in a while. Have a group discussion about how to make decisions of how to transform into a better working system. Think, 'what can I do to better my community?'" Ms. Ayo Kendi

    It is encouraging to know that Black Love Day is being further recognized and accepted by more in the community each year. It is a refreshing break from the sometimes shallow and commercial Valentines Day celebrations. You don't have to be in a romantic relationship to enjoy it; this celebration promotes every aspect of love and the even deeper quality of loving oneself and loving others around you, without limits.

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