Celebrating National Freedom Day

My Regular Pagan Holiday Greeting

Happy New Year! February 1 gives us many reasons to celebrate.

Imbolc, the Celtic pagan holiday celebrated February 1 and 2, marks the mid-point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. And February 1 is the first day of Chinese New Year.

February 1 is also National Freedom Day. Have you ever heard of it? Me neither, but I plan to start celebrating it now that I have. Feb 1, 1865 was the day President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery. The amendment was ratified by the states on December 18 of that year.

Major Richard Robert Wright Sr.

The holiday was created by a former slave named Major Richard Robert Wright, Sr., a committed community builder who founded a college and a bank. Born into slavery in Georgia in 1855, after the Civil War ended he moved with his mother to Atlanta where he enrolled in the Storrs School, the forerunner of Atlanta University. In 1876 he married Lydia Elizabeth Howard, who bore nine children. Wright was the first African American paymaster in the U.S. Army (appointed by President McKinley). As a major he was the highest ranking Black officer during the Spanish American War.

In 1948, the year after Wright’s death, Congress passed and President Harry Truman signed into law a bill to make February 1 National Freedom Day. It later became Black History Day. This gave impetus to national recognition for Black History Week and, in 1976, Black History Month.

Wright envisioned National Freedom Day as a day for “all Americans” to celebrate our freedom. Harry Truman, Major Richard Robert Wright and the U.S. Congress saw America itself as a symbol of freedom. 

The arc of the moral universe is a lot longer than I had thought and I’m not convinced it bends toward justice without a lot of help. As we now lose freedoms we fought for in our own lifetimes—the freedom to vote, women’s freedom to control reproduction, the freedom to live without fear of fascism—let’s celebrate National Freedom Day by appreciating the freedoms we do enjoy and joining the fight to regain freedoms lost. 

Author: Molly Martin

I'm a long-time tradeswoman activist, retired electrician and electrical inspector. I live in Santa Rosa, CA. molly-martin.com. I also share a travel blog with my wife Holly: travelswithmoho.wordpress.com.

6 thoughts on “Celebrating National Freedom Day”

  1. Ok cousin, what in the world do you mean we lost our freedom to vote? 🥰. There are indeed freedoms we seem to be in jeopardy of losing these days, (like freedom of speech), but EveryOne can vote! XOXOXO
    LOVE YOU!

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    1. Hi Cousin, I’m referring to the failure of the voting rights bill to pass in Congress and the Republicons efforts to restrict voting in many states. They know they can’t win if everyone is allowed to vote so voter suppression is their game in the next elections. I’m sure you’ve been reading about this and I don’t need to go into detail, but will if you’d like me to.

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      1. Hi back, dear Molly! I see two very different streams of information coming at us, and truthfully, what I read and hear is very opposite to what the mainstream news is telling. That’s why I don’t listen to news much anymore, much less, politics. The USA is falling apart, nothing makes sense, good has become evil and evil, good. I am praying for peace, and there is only one way to peace. Never religion, not protest, not war, not synagogue or church, etc. Jesus the Messiah, Son of God, Savior, is the only way to peace. Only here is true freedom. Again, NOT religion. If you want to block me, I understand. I do love you, my cousin, great granddaughter of my dear greatgrampa’s brother! ❤️😘

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  2. Great post, Molly. Thanks for introducing us to this info. And also thanks for your closing notes. They mean a lot to me as I wrestle with how to stay politically active while the fears of fascism rise.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Molly. I enjoy your history lessons and your holiday celebration reminders! As for freedoms, some people I know associate fascism only with Conservatives. To be sure there are some bigoted, white supremacists who call themselves Republicans, but I think we need to watch out for and fight fascism on both sides of the isle. I’m probably in the minority here, but to me, the mandates, the suppression of ideas that don’t match the approved narrative, the loss of personal freedoms that we have seen over the last two years, especially in our state, seem pretty fascist to me. Just saying.

    Liked by 1 person

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