Skip to content

Honoring the signing of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery in America, National Freedom Day is an annual United States observance to celebrate the nation’s freedom and recognize the efforts of those who fight to protect it.

History of National Freedom Day

National Freedom Day was established by a Civil Rights leader, businessman, and former slave named Major Richard Robert Wright Sr. Wright, who was born into slavery in 1855, saw the need for a day to commemorate when the 13th Amendment was signed, and to identify the ongoing struggle for civil rights. He believed that the 13th Amendment was an important milestone in establishing freedom and equality for all Americans, and he wanted to ensure that it would never be forgotten.

In 1941, Wright began lobbying for the establishment of National Freedom Day and, in 1948, a year after his passing, it was officially recognized by the United States government. It is celebrated every year on February 1st, the same day the 13th Amendment was signed into law in 1865.

National Freedom Day serves as a reminder of the long and difficult journey towards equality for all American citizens. It is a day to remember the struggle of those who fought for their rights, and to recognize the continuing fight for civil rights.

National Freedom Day Timeline

February 1, 1865

13th Amendment Abolishes Slavery

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution is signed into law, officially abolishing slavery in the United States. This marks a significant step towards freedom and equality for all Americans and marks the end of a long and difficult journey.[1]

June 30, 1948

National Freedom Day Established

This day is officially recognized by the United States government as a day of observance, signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.[2]


Civil Rights Movement Gathers Steam

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s sees a renewed push for equality and freedom for all Americans. It is a time of great progress and change, and serves as a reminder that the fight for civil rights is far from over.[3]

November 4, 2008

Barack Obama Elected President

The first African American president of the United States, is elected, symbolizing progress and change in the ongoing fight for civil rights.[4]

January 20, 2021

First African-American and Asian-American woman vice president

Kamala Harris becomes the first African-American and Asian-American woman to hold the office of Vice President, a symbol of progress and change.[5]

How to Celebrate National Freedom Day

National Freedom Day is celebrated annually on February 1st by individuals, organizations, and communities across the United States. Many states observe National Freedom Day with a special ceremony, parade, or other event, along with speeches, performances and educational programs.

Many people choose to mark the day with their own private ceremonies and celebrations, such as visiting historical sites, lighting candles, or making donations to organizations that promote freedom and civil rights. Here’s a few ideas for how to observe the day:

Attend a National Freedom Day Event

Many communities hold events or ceremonies to commemorate National Freedom Day. These events may include speeches, performances, or educational programs and can be arranged by local schools, churches, or civil rights groups. Attending one of these events is a great way to honor the legacy of those who strove for freedom, and to learn more about the history of the 13th amendment.

Learn About the History of Slavery

National Freedom Day is an opportunity to learn about the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Read books, watch documentaries, or visit museums to deepen your understanding of this important part of American history. By learning about the past, we can better understand and appreciate the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done.

Participate in a Community Service Project

National Freedom Day is a day to give back to your community and promote equality and freedom for all. Participate in a volunteer or community service project to make a positive impact in your community. This could include volunteering at a local school, community center, or non-profit organization. It could also include participating in a community clean-up or fundraising event.

Have a Discussion About Equality

Use National Freedom Day as a chance to have a family discussion about freedom and equality. A great way to raise awareness and promote understanding and empathy within your own family is to talk about the Civil Rights Movement with them, the history of slavery, and the current state of civil rights in America. Encourage family members to share their thoughts and feelings about these issues.

Also on ...

View all holidays
View all holidays