The forgotten history of August 28 and what it means for all Americans today.

Black history in the United States is heartbreaking, breathtaking, and utterly incredible.

Photo by Kent Gavin/Keystone/Getty Images.

There’s one day in particular that has been incredibly influential.


On Aug. 28 of various years, descendants of the African diaspora have experienced several events that changed the course of history.

From slavery ending to the the road clearing for America's first black president, black history on Aug. 28 was full of ups and downs that changed culture and policy. Here are five dates to know.

Aug. 28, 1833: Slavery was abolished in the United Kingdom, setting the stage for other nations to do the same.

An anti-slavery movement swept through the British Republic in the late 1700s. In December 1831, what was intended to be a peaceful strike in Jamaica resulted in the Baptist War, an incredibly large slave revolt. The loss of life and property led the British parliament to hold two inquiries that ultimately resulted in the approval of the Slavery Abolition Act on Aug. 28, 1833.

Aug. 28, 1955: Emmett Till was brutally murdered by two white men.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Till, while visiting his uncle in the South, was accused of whistling at a white woman in public. On Aug. 28, 1955, the woman's husband and his brother kidnapped Till from his uncle’s home, brutally beat him, shot him in the head, tied a cotton gin fan to his neck, and sunk his body in the Tallahatchie River. Till's mutilated body was found and returned to his mother in Chicago, who held an open-casket funeral "so all the world could see what they did to my boy.”

While the lynchings and murders of innocent black people were commonalities of the United States at the time, the barbaric nature of Till's death paired with his young age (he was 14) caught the attention of national media and worldwide news. Till’s death, and the acquittal of his killers, is a piece of history representative of the injustices black folks have received at the hands of white Americans, an unfair legal system, and a democracy that historically failed to protect its most vulnerable citizens.

Aug. 28, 1963: Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his iconic "I Have A Dream" speech in Washington, D.C.

Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

The profound orator spoke to a crowd of nearly 250,000, calling for an end to intense racism and the beginning of a unified country that would judge one another by the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.

Aug. 28, 2005: Citizens of New Orleans were ordered to evacuate in preparation for Hurricane Katrina.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

The hurricane, which struck just east of New Orleans in the early hours of Aug. 28, destroyed homes and businesses across the city, caused $108.5 billion in damage and killed more than 1,500 people. It displaced thousands of residents — mostly black — and shed light on housing and infrastructure inequality rooted in racial and socioeconomic discrimination.

Aug. 28, 2008: Then-Senator Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for president.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

He was the first black man to do so, and later, the first African-American hold the presidential office.

The 28th hasn't been the only important day in black history during August.

James Baldwin, author, poet, and LGBTQ figure, was born on Aug. 2, 1924. On Aug. 9, 1936, Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Berlin, and on Aug. 21, 1831, Nat Turner led one of the most well-known and influential slave revolts in the world's history.

And this August, the world watched as white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, and Neo-Nazis marched on a college campus in Charlottesville, Virginia. Unlike the marches in the 1950s and 60s, where KKK members wore hoods to hide their faces, these supremacists came out uncloaked — bold and unapologetic in their racist ideologies.

August has been a month of anger, terror, love, and change for black people for hundreds of years.

As a nation founded on the ideals of freedom and equality for all, we have the power to decide what future Aug. 28ths, and the other 30 days of August, will look like.

By choosing action over inaction, love over hate, and solidarity over superiority, we can shape a future that is more fair, tolerant, and inclusive of the very people that have given blood, sweat, and tears to this great — yet flawed — nation.

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Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

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Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

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"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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