National Freedom Day has been celebrated on the 1st of February since 1949. It had been created 7 years prior to that by a Philadelphian who was born in slavery.
This national occasion is a commemoration of the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution introduced by Abraham Lincoln. The 13th Amendment put an end to slavery and built the ground for the African-Americans’ struggle for justice and equality.
As mentioned before, this day became significant for the citizens of the United States after Richard R. Wright Sr., who was born a slave, wrote an article in the Philadelphia Tribune. His message was simple and straight forward stating that the Americans could not be called a free nation until the African-Americans were not free. His main point was that freedom should be for everyone, regardless of the color of the skin. Richard R. Wright was a famous political journalist and activist. He was involved in the 15th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as the creation of the All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors. He choose the 1st of February for the celebration of National Freedom Day because on this date, Abraham Lincoln proposed the 13th Amendment. The first celebrations of National Freedom Day (in 1947 and 1948) until it became a national holiday, were encompassed by social events at the Congress and Independence Halls, gatherings, parades, and speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thurgood Marshall.
National Holiday in 1949
National Freedom Day became a national day and was firstly celebrated across the whole country in 1949, following the proclamation of Harry S. Truman. With the passage of time, the observance became more local. The traditional rituals included:
wreath-laying at the Liberty Bell;
scholarships awarding by the National Freedom Day Association;
observances by the pupils at Dauphin Street, Twenty-Seventh Street and Richard R. Wright School.Despite the constant efforts of the African-Americans, National Freedom Day didn’t become as popular as Black History Month, Juneteenth, and Martin Luther King Day.
However, in the 21st century, National Freedom Day become more popular thankfully to the power of the Internet. Tens of thousands of the websites have proclaimed it as one of the federally recognized holidays, which increased the public awareness of this holiday.