Ayo Handi-Kendi founded Black Love Day, a cultural celebration affirming Black love in 1993.  In the midst of Black Lives Matter, the holiday — celebrated on Feb 13 — has grown in popularity. 

Timed to occur near Valentine’s day, when love is already in the air, the holiday encourage Black people to celebrate and love one another. 

Handy-Kendi, founder of the African American Holiday Association, a non-profit that seeks to preserve black culture through tradition and ritual, envisioned the day as a an alternative holiday for Black people to celebrate and love one another at a time of year when love is already in the air.

“We encourage people on this day to do something very simple—just demonstrate love for 24 hours, and celebrate and atone, offer forgiveness to ourselves and to others, and to accept the very important tenets—what we call the five black love tenets,” Handy-Kendi told the Daily Dot. The five black love tenets are: showing love for the creator; love for themselves; love for their families; love for the black community; and love for the black race.

In January 1993, she saw Spike Lee’s acclaimed biographical drama, Malcolm X, and during the bus ride back home, she says the creator spoke to her and inspired her to create Black Love Day.

“The scene in which Spike Lee shows black people shooting down my black brother Malcolm—who is really my hero—it was so graphic,” she said, “It touched my soul so deeply,” she continued. “As I thought of this scene and I could see the pain of Sister Betty [Shabazz], and I said it out loud to the creator, ‘What can I do to stop the violence and increase the peace? What can I do?’ I heard the creator say to me that we need more black love.”

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