Savannah State University will observe National Freedom Day during a campus program Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Elmore Theater, located inside the King-Frazier Student Center. During the program, two professors will discuss their work on “The Presidential and Congressional Documents on the First African-American National Holiday: National Freedom Day” and students who have completed research about the observance will give reflections.
Richard R. Wright Sr., Savannah State’s first president from 1891-1921, is considered the architect of National Freedom Day. During the early 1940s, Wright, who was then living in Philadelphia, launched a campaign to establish a national day to promote goodwill, harmony and equal opportunity among all citizens, and to rededicate the nation to the ideal of freedom. In 1948, the year after Wright’s death, President Harry Truman signed the proclamation into law that established Feb. 1 as National Freedom Day to commemorate the signing of the 13th Amendment, the anti slavery amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
Born into slavery in 1855 near Dalton, Ga., Wright’s career accomplishments included being an American military officer, newspaper editor, high school principal, civil rights advocate and banking entrepreneur.