February 1st is known as National Freedom Day, as it is the day President Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery in 1865. Though the Amendment was not ratified until December 18, 1865, it’s important to recognize and celebrate this day of liberation, especially as we enter Black History Month.
Here are a few things you can do to acknowledge this historical day:
- Educate yourself: Educating doesn’t necessarily mean reading history books that usually leave out the most important parts of history. Instead, educating oneself can include watching a culturally significant movie or reading memoirs or personal accounts of someone else’s life experiences.
- Engage in community discourse: Consider sharing your knowledge of this national day with a family member or friend who may or may not know about it. Consider sharing a post about the day on social media, inviting peers to comment. Although it is important to set parameters, such as comment filters, when facilitating online discussion.
- Reflect on the history and appreciate the present: As we know, history often repeats itself, but one way we can prevent that from happening is looking back at history – acknowledging and reflecting on it. Then, look to the present, as well as the future, and appreciate where we are and how far we’ve come. Also, allow this time of reflection to remind you how much progress is left to be made.
- Support Black-owned or operated businesses/organizations: Make an effort to visit local eateries or establishments that are Black-owned or operated in Southwest Mississippi. You can visit this directory to find some in your area: https://www.supportblackowned.com/
- You might also check us, SMMEIIS, out this Saturday at St. Andrew's Activity Center for our 5th annual literary festival, “Carnival of Words,” during the city of McComb’s annual Mardi Gras parade and carnival celebration.
But as we celebrate this day and enter Black History Month, it’s important to remember that Black joy, expression, and freedom go beyond one day, one month, as the pursuit of freedom and personal liberation is an ongoing endeavor.
It’s a lifelong commitment to seek that liberation, and as allies, it’s a pursuit of empathy and understanding. It’s listening, learning, and being willing to put in the work.
And as we continue to combat systemic injustice, we must rely on unity, which is why uplifting our community is crucial – today, tomorrow, and every day after.
Maleigh Crespo is a junior English writing major, journalism minor on the education track at Loyola University New Orleans. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and couldn't see herself doing anything else. When she’s not writing, she can be found blasting Taylor Swift, online shopping, or feeding the squirrels in Audubon Park. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.