Martin Luther King Day, which will be observed on January 17, 2022, is about more than honoring the legacy of the American civil rights activist. It is the only US federal holiday designated as a national day of service — a "day on, not a day off." Americans are encouraged to celebrate the occasion by participating in service activities to help their local communities.
Desmond Mpilo Tutu, a leading activist in South Africa's fight against apartheid, passed away on December 26, 2021. The 90-year-old retired archbishop, who also spearheaded the country's smooth transition from apartheid to democracy, had been battling prostate cancer since 1997. Mr. Tutu was laid to rest at a state funeral at St. George's Cathedral, Cape Town, on January 1, 2022.
After months of negotiations, US lawmakers finally reached an agreement to allocate $1.2 trillion to much-needed public works projects. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden on November 15, 2021, includes $550 billion in new spending. The rest will be reallocated from already existing projects and funds. Here are some of the many infrastructure improvements that can be expected across the country over the next five years.
Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are all designed to motivate consumers to spend money on holiday gifts for their loved ones. However, Giving Tuesday, which will be observed on November 30, 2021, has a more altruistic purpose. "The Global Day of Giving" encourages people to "give their voice, time, money, goods, and advocacy to support communities and causes."
The infamous Salem witch trials, which took place in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693, were a dark period in America's legal history. More than 200 people were wrongfully accused of practicing witchcraft, and 20 were executed. In the 328 years since, most of the accused have been cleared of any crimes. However, for reasons unknown, Elizabeth Johnson Jr., who was just 22 at the time, was never pardoned. Now, thanks to the hard work of an eighth-grade class from North Andover Middle School, MA, her name may finally be cleared.
The second Monday in October has traditionally been known as Columbus Day in honor of the Italian explorer's "discovery" of the Americas on October 12, 1492. However, the US federal holiday, which will be celebrated on October 11 this year, has always been controversial due to the European settlers' cruel treatment of the Native American people.
The quarter dollar is both the most commonly-used coin in the American currency and the most unique. Since 1999, the coin's reverse, or "tails," side has showcased all 50 US states, as well as the breathtaking beauty of the country's national parks. Now, the US Mint plans to use the silver canvas to celebrate female leaders who have played a crucial part in shaping the nation's history.
On April 22, 2021, for the second consecutive year, the US House of Representatives voted 216-208 to make Washington, DC, the nation's 51st state. Though the symbolically titled H.R. 51 bill is identical to the one passed on June 26, 2020, the legislation was never put to the vote in the then Republican-controlled Senate. However, this time around, the bill — which has the support of both President Joe Biden and Democratic Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer — will get a hearing in the upper house of Congress.