Black History Month 2023

1985 1986 1987

39 Jimmy Carter | 40 Ronald Reagan | 41 George H. W. Bush

Affirmative Action Mass Incarceration Reparations Movement

January 20, 1986
First Martin Luther King Day Observed

Washington, D. C. - The first legal observance of Martin Luther King Day was in the United States. This was the first (1st) and only Federal holiday for a Black American.

On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed, into law, to make it a Federal holiday. States were not required to observe the holiday. At first, many states refused to accept it. This included many southern states.

By 2000, all states recognized the Federal holiday, but called it by other names. Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Virginia called it Stonewall Jackson Day. These states chose to honor a Confederate General who fought the United States, to uphold slavery.


January 25, 1986
'The Vanishing Family: Crisis in Black America' First Aired on Television

New York, New York - CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) showed 'Crisis in Black America' on national television. Black people were shown as loose, broken, and hopeless. It showed Black American men as poor fathers.

The stories were from Newark, New Jersey. The problems of this city were used by CBS to present all Black Americans in the same way. Bill Moyers, a white man, was the narrator.

The mothers and fathers were never shown talking to each together. Moyers only spoke to the women, or the men, but not at the same time. No Black American families were shown talking to one another. It implied Black Americans were alienated from one another.

Moyers spoke to a Black American father, who said he gave no support to his six (6) children. This one statement sparked outrage among whites. Thus began the 'Deadbeat Dad' myth in the United States.

CBS aired this five (5) days after the first Martin Luther King Day in the United States.


October 24, 1986
Soul Man Movie Released

The movie, Soul Man, was released in the United States. It was the story of a white man who used affirmative action to attend law school. This was the excuse to appear in blackface, in the movie.

The white man wanted to go to Harvard Law School. His father refused to pay for it. To get law school paid, he chose to use affirmative action. Since he was white, he had to pretend to be Black, to get the benefits.

The movie was criticized for its racist stereotypes of Black Americans, created by whites. It mocked affirmative action as the premise for the movie. The movie was almost forgotten after the 1980s.


October 27, 1986
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986

Washington, D. C. - President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. This began the 100:1 sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine.

This was the second of three Mass Incarceration Acts of the 1980s and 1990s. In 1984, the first brought mandatory-minimum sentences. 1994, the third and last brought 3 strikes.

By 2002, it was clear the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was almost entirely meant for Black Americans. 85% of inmates, in prison on the 100:1 sentencing, were Black Americans.