National Freedom Day

Commemorated on February 1st, this holiday observes Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the resolution that would eventually become the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery. The resolution did not completely abolish slavery until it was ratified by the states, but the date is still used to commemorate National Freedom Day.

How it’s celebrated:

  • Reflection of freedom and human rights
  • Discussions and educational presentations
  • Laying wreaths on the Liberty Bell
  • Film screenings
  • Festivals
  • Concerts
  • Other events
  • Celebration of African-American history

History

Although the resolution was not ratified, officially passing the 13th amendment, until December 18, Lincoln along with the House and Senate signed the resolution on February 1st. The amendment abolished slavery along with involuntary servitude. It was seen as an augmentation of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was mostly viewed as an act of war rather than a law.

The holiday was campaigned for by former slave, Major Richard Robert Wright Senior, and educational, political, and business leader in Philadelphia. Wright believed there should be a day set aside to celebrate freedom and the efforts of the oppressed to gain freedom. The first celebration of the day was February 1st, 1942, well after Wright’s death, although it was not officially considered a holiday until Truman proclaimed it in 1948.

After Wright was freed from slavery, he rose as a community leader in Philadelphia, finding success in business, education, and politics. He gave much of his time to social reform.

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