Richard Robert Wright Sr. was a pioneering African American leader who carved paths in higher education, politics, finance, and culture. He's a person that we aren't taught about all too often, though.
Born into slavery, he went on to help found the African American organizations, open what is now Savannah State University, and become the first African American to own a bank in the North. His incredible achievements are too numerous to recite in this article, but there's one that we're here to focus on.
Late in his life, Wright brought American leaders together to discuss naming February 1st as "National Freedom Day." In 1865, Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery on February 1st. While it didn't get through until a year after his death, Congress passed a bill naming February 1st, 1948 as National Freedom Day.
The Importance of National Freedom DayNational Freedom Day was the father of Black History Day, which then turned into Black History Month. In other words, it was a step toward national recognition of the African diaspora and the struggle and accomplishments of African Americans.
Some towns hold festivals in celebration, while another custom is to bring wreaths to the Liberty Bell on February 1st. More commonly, the day serves as a reminder to many people that our peoples' freedoms were hard-fought, and didn't always exist. National Freedom Day should serve as a reminder of the great accomplishments of Americans in addition to the pain and suffering that predated most of our freedoms.
Do Your PartAppreciating Freedom shouldn't only happen on National Freedom Day. However we can start the month of February as an opportunity to celebrate, and carry that with us year round.
Read up on the 13th Amendment, research the life of Richard Robert Wright Sr., and dig deep into African American history and accomplishments. Take the time to reflect on your own freedoms and what had to happen for them to exist. If you want to, think about contributing to organizations that work for freedom every day.
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