Today, under the auspices of the United Nations, the global community is observing August 31 as “The International Day for People of African Descent.”
This follows adoption of the day for this purpose by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16 2020, by way of Resolution 75/170.
Professor Verene Shepherd, Director of The Centre for Reparation Research at the University of the West Indies, explains that the day was chosen” in recognition of 31st August 1920, when the first International Convention of the Negro Peoples of the World ended in New York; and as a result of the discussions led by The Rt. Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World was promulgated.”
Professor Shepherd said the United Nations aims, through this observance, “to promote greater recognition and respect for the diverse heritage, culture and contribution of people of African ancestry to the development of societies, and to promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially for women and girls who experience multiple forms of discrimination.”
“Africans and people of African ancestry have suffered for centuries from a doctrine of racial superiority, which has caused us to experience slavery and other violent practices, excessive use of force by law enforcement agencies and structural racism in criminal justice systems around the world. Yet, the doctrine of racial superiority, in particular white supremacy, is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust, and dangerous and must be rejected.”
She added: “As we continue to mark the International Decade for People of African Descent; and as we approach the 20th anniversary of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in Durban, South Africa from 31 August to 8 September 2001, let us commit, not just to the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination and proclaim the rights of African people, but also intensify our fight for reparatory justice from States that committed crimes against humanity that have caused historical and contemporary harm to Africans and persons of African ancestry.”
The Centre for Reparation Research, Shepherd said, had endorsed the UN’s call for “all Member States, all organizations and bodies of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, the private sector and academia, as well as civil society, including non-governmental organizations and individuals, to observe the International Day through education and public awareness-raising activities, that will contribute to the true decolonization of our education system and eliminate structural discrimination from all aspects of our society.”