We all know Valentine’s Day is meant for celebrating and acknowledging our significant other, but few have heard of the Feb. 13 alternative: Black Love Day, the third nationally commemorated African-American holiday. It is a day of atonement, reconciliation and celebration.

How did I hear about this holiday?

The holiday happens to fall on my birthday. My father always told me this growing up, but I never heard of others around me celebrating it. After asking multiple students and teachers on Grambling State University’s campus and asking outside friends, family and peers, it registered quickly to me that people were unaware of the African-American holiday.

In 1993, Ayo Handy-Kendi, the founder of the nonprofit African-American Holiday Association (AAHA), created Black Love Day. The holiday is based on five tenets: love toward the creator, love for self, love for the family, love for/within the black community and love for black people. The idea is to apply these tenets throughout the entire year in one’s daily life but to pay special homage to the idea of black love on Feb. 13. People of other races can work on their behavior and racial attitudes toward black people and demonstrate “love in action” to African-Americans.

Twenty-five years later, the holiday is still relevant to the black community.

Starrene and Anslem Rocque just found out that Black Love Day exists, but they want to spread the word about the holiday. They have been married for six years and have an 18-month-old baby girl. They describe black love as unity, community and strength. They celebrate black love by posting beautiful black couples with various hashtags on their Instagram and are elated because they just found out that there is a holiday for it.

“It’s a reminder to celebrate yourself, be proud of who you are, but also to celebrate love and finding someone who is a reflection of you or a reminder for you to be a better version of yourself, [and] to build for a brighter future when it comes to the black community,” said Starrene Rocque.

Black Love Day was started to put an end to self-hatred among blacks, stop the violence, end racism, increase peace, besides offering an Africa-centered, spiritually-influenced holiday.

“Black love is everything. I’m sure we all grew up not really seeing images of ourselves or most of us not coming from complete families. The fact that there is a Black Love Day is icing on the cake. You don’t want to show love to someone on that one day — you want to show it every day. It’s all those days that matter the most that lead up to that one pinnacle celebration day,” said Anslem Rocque.

They plan on celebrating by going out to lunch or dinner.

“It’s important because there’s still so many stereotypes of black people when it comes to love and relationships, sometimes perpetuated by other people and black people. … It’s just important for other people to see that this person looks like me and they have what I want, and if they found it, then I can find it too,” said Starrene Rocque.

If you want to celebrate the holiday, check out this Facebook page.

Miniya Shabazz is a junior mass communication major from Laurel, MD. She attends Grambling State University and is a staff writer for The Gramblinite.

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