New York City and the nation just paused to celebrate the various Jewish holy days in solidarity with the Jewish community. On May 5 many people celebrated Cinco de Mayo in solidarity with the Mexican community. On St. Patrick’s Day many people will wear green in sync with the spirit of our Irish sisters and brothers. Likewise, Black Solidarity Day should be celebrated by everyone! People who proudly consider themselves Black should expect people who do not consider themselves Black to understand, honor and celebrate the upcoming holiday, which takes place Monday, Nov. 5, this year. In the spirit of “Black Lives matter,” I suggest that it’s time to make Black Solidarity Day a major holiday on the calendar of for all people.

Founded in 1969 by recently deceased educator Dr. Carlos E. Russell, Black Solidarity Day derives from the play “Day of Absence” by Douglas Turner Ward. The play was based on the social, political and economic consequences that would ensue if all Black people were to disappear for one day. Russell envisioned and created the holiday, and it has been celebrated, especially in the Northeast of the USA, with various levels of participation ever since. Traditionally on the Monday before Election Day, Black people do not attend work or school and do not shop. Since its founding, proud Africans, or Black people (I use the terms interchangeably, although there can be various interpretations), have brainstormed and imagined new ways to complement and magnify this day of Black unity and empowerment.

As a dedicated Garveyite, I want Black Solidarity Day to be large—well celebrated and “lit” as the youth and young adults say in current lingo—so I’ve recently talked and planned with community leaders about possibilities for a bigger celebration in Brooklyn. One leader suggested that organizers should identify Black-owned stores in the neighborhood and purposely encourage people to patronize those stores as a way to celebrate and build Black economic power. Another leader is planning a panel discussion, followed by breakout sessions to teach the youth and young adults about the true meaning of Black Solidarity Day. Others want to march through the streets, led by red, black and green flags, with marchers handing out relevant literature to people along the route. All of these ideas and others that you might think about between now and Nov. 5 can and should be implemented, just as long as the focus remains Black solidarity to build Black Power.

Having clear focus is important. Everyone is welcome to celebrate the holiday in our multicultural society and reality, but Black Solidarity Day is about Black, or African, people! Black people are still oppressed globally! During the year that the “Black Panther” movie and the fictional Wakanda nation inspired people worldwide, we must continue to celebrate and elevate Blackness! Black people are diverse—ethnically, by nationality, the language we speak, the religions we practice, our class, our income level—but nonetheless, we are all oppressed. If we don’t stand up for ourselves and make the world recognize our humanity, then how will we ever be unoppressed? Monday, Nov. 5, let us celebrate not People of Color Day, not Multicultural Day, but Black Solidarity Day and encourage the whole world to recognize it. Let’s do that and get ready for a glorious 50th anniversary celebration of Black Solidarity Day next year!