JUNE themes: Caribbean, African-American, LGBT and cat awareness

JUNE 2014: This month, groups of Americans will celebrate Caribbean Americans, African-American music, Gay Pride—and the adoption of cats. Among the business groups claiming June as a promotional month is the American dairy industry. Back in 1937, dairy farmers declared June National Milk Month and later the campaign expanded into National Dairy Month. Today, dairy-free folks also celebrate Dairy Alternatives Month in June. Among other food industries claiming June are producers of iced tea, seafood—and okra! Throughout June, you’ll also see news about National Fireworks Safety Month, an important theme as Americans prepare for their July 4 celebrations.
Here are a few of the bigger month-long celebrations …

Caribbean-American Heritage Month

Over the past three centuries, millions of men and women have moved to what is now the United States from the 700 islands known as the Caribbean. In 2006, the U.S. Congress called for an annual season honoring this group. Each year, the White House issues a proclamation designating June as Caribbean-American Heritage Month. This year, President Obama declared: “Caribbean Americans have contributed to every aspect of our society—from science and medicine to business and the arts.


Like the Caribbean-themed campaign, African-American musicians urged officials in Washington D.C. to honor their contribution to our nation’s culture. They succeeded in 1979, when President Jimmy Carter held a White House reception and named “Black Music Month.” Later, the idea was renamed, the White House remains involved—and plans are underway to have an annual June emphasis on music at the still-under-development Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. That museum is expected to open in 2015.


The late gay-rights activist and feminist Brenda Howard is credited with touching off the movement that led to today’s month-long series of LGBT Pride events. She helped to organize the first annual march to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in late June of 1969. Only two presidents have made annual declarations of this special month: Bill Clinton once and Barack Obama in each recent year. This year, the White House declaration says in part: “As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect—our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.


You will enjoy our entire Interfaith Calendar of holidays and anniversaries. An easy way to reach that master index: Remember the URL InterfaithHolidays.com

(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an on line magazine covering religion, spirituality, values and interfaith and cross-cultural issues.)

APRIL themes: Autism, Jazz, Poetry, Arab Americans and more

APRIL 2014: Americans will hear a lot this month about everything from jazz, poetry, Arab Americans, frogs and kites—to foods including Brussel sprouts and cabbage. Here are just some of the dozens of special month-long themes …


The Autism Society offers a resource page for the April observance, including the recommendation that supportive men and women display the puzzle-piece autism-awareness logo. The Society says: “The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world. Autism prevalence is now 1 in every 88 children in America. Show your support for people with autism by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon—as a pin on your shirt, a magnet on your car, a badge on your blog, or even your Facebook profile picture—and educate folks on the potential of people with autism!”


The coolest news from Washington D.C., this April, is that the Smithsonian is kicking off Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) by receiving jazz legend John Coltrane’s “Selmer Mark VI tenor saxophone, made in Paris about 1965, the year that A Love Supreme was released. The saxophone is one of three principal saxophones Coltrane played and will be on view in the Smithsonian’s American Stories exhibition.” (Unfortunately, the newly donated sax won’t make it onto public display until June.) Check news outlets in your part of the U.S. for special jazz programs this month. Look for events labeled with the appropriate acronym “JAM.” Plus, you may want to join the several thousand people who already have “liked” the Facebook page for Jazz Appreciation Month, a page that includes some photos of Contrane’s sax.


Nearly two decades ago, in 1996, The Academy of American Poets introduced National Poetry Month. The group was founded in 1934 and now gives away some of the most sought-after awards in poetry each year. The Wikipedia entry for the special month points out some of the past observances, including: the Empire State Building turning on blue lights in honor of the month, special White House programs and special distributions of poetry books. Look for regional events in our area through schools, libraries and bookstores. Here is the official 2014 National Poetry Month page, including a copy of this year’s poster, at the Academy site.


Relatively new in the long list of month-long themes is Arab American Heritage Month. Check schedules in your region for schools, libraries and community groups that may be scheduling programs. If you are coming to Michigan, visit the Arab American National Museum.

The following programs are just a handful of the many April themes promoted in various parts of the U.S.: Parkinson’s Awareness Month, Holy Humor Month, National Frog Month, National Kite Month—and many foods are honored, including Brussel Sprouts and Cabbage Month.

(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an on line magazine covering religion, spirituality, values and interfaith and cross-cultural issues.)