While other holidays seek to commemorate the events and achievements of the past, African Liberation Day focuses attention on a goal that has not yet been fully realized: the liberation of all African people. The observance of this day can be traced back to April 15, 1958, when the Conference of Independent African States was held in Accra, Ghana. Attendees declared April 15 African Freedom Day, and between 1958 and 1963 this observance was supported by leaders worldwide, including President John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Senator Hubert Humphrey in the United States.
As British and European colonies in Africa continued to win their independence during the 1950s and 60s, and as the civil rights movement in the United States began to achieve some success, 31 independent African countries met on May 25, 1963, to form the Organization of African Unity. They changed the name and the date of what now became African Liberation Day. In 1999 the group reorganized into the African Union.
Today, observances worldwide include marches, parades, rallies, and conferences. These events focus on celebrating freedom from colonialism, educating people about the progress of the African liberation movement, and speaking out against oppression. There are also sporting contests and tribal dances, particularly in Chad, Zambia, and other African states where it is a public holiday.
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