Black Love Day Offers an Alternative to Valentine’s Day

Black Love Relationship Ceremony to Be Held at Howard University

As Valentine’s Day approaches, red and pink colors appear on cue in pharmacies, flower shops and department stores. Some people love the frantic shopping to find the perfect token of affection for their sweethearts. Others say use the occasion to celebrate Black Love Day instead.

This year’s observance will include a Black Love Relationship Ceremony from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, in the Gallery Lounge of the Blackburn Center at Howard University. It is being sponsored by the African-American Holiday Association (AAHA) and PositivEnergyWorks.

Ayo Handy Kendi, a community activist, founded the association nearly two decades ago after seeing Spike Lee’s film “Malcolm X.” Handy Kendi was so affected by the scene in which Malcolm X was murdered by another black man that she asked herself, “What can I do to stop the violence?” She said a voice from her spirit told her, “We need more black love.”

Handy Kendi encourages people to demonstrate Black Love Day’s five tenets: love for the creator, love for self, love for the family, love for the community and love for the black race. 

Washington life coach Aurelia Williams said loving yourself can help create “a more positive outlook on yourself and on life as a whole.”

“You’ll feel better about yourself, have less stress, and increase self-esteem,” Williams said. “You’ll have a positive energy to reflect on people and be able to give love and kindness to other people.”

Despite the occasion’s name, anyone can celebrate, Handy Kendi said. As an alternative to Valentine’s Day, she said, Black Love Day can be celebrated in a number of ways:

  • Attending community relationship ceremonies
  • Spending time with the family members
  • Donating to organizations and
  • purchasing “love gifts from black merchants to recycle black dollars.”

Some say they don’t need a single day to honor black love. “I celebrate Black Love Day every day,” said Greg Carr, Ph.D., chair of the Department of African-American Studies at Howard University.

“The one thing I would do different on that day is explicitly encourage black people to do the same,” Carr explained. “I would tell them to try it. That’s why you have days devoted to certain topics; it’s the day to point it out and emphasize it.”

Black Love Day celebrations appear to be growing. It’s commemorated at local universities such as Howard, American and Morgan State, and relationship ceremonies have been held in cities such as Washington, St. Louis and Los Angeles.

“Love is such a powerful force,” Handy Kendi said. “When we’re creative, we can think of all kinds of ways to demonstrate love.”