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National Freedom Day kicks off Black History Month

13th Amendment
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
FILE - This Nov. 29, 2011, file photo shows the signature of president Abraham Lincoln on a rare, restored copy of the 13th Amendment that ended slavery, in Chicago. National lawmakers are expected on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, to introduce a joint resolution aimed at striking language from the U.S. Constitution that enshrines a form of slavery in America’s foundational documents. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

February 1st is National Freedom Day which commemorates the ratification of the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment in a special joint session of the house and the senate abolishing slavery in the U.S.

“It’s incredibly important, because, to be honest, slavery and emancipation is a huge part of Black experience within the United States,” said Jeff Fortney, an assistant professor of history at Florida Gulf Coast University.

National Freedom Day was one of the first national holidays to commemorate the abolition of slavery. The day begins Black History Month, which is celebrated throughout February.

“It wasn’t just arbitrarily chosen to say, ‘ok, we’re just going to pick a month out of random.’ There was a day that we’re looking at and signaling, ‘ok, this is the time to look and say, a big event sparked this,’” said Fortney.

Fortney explains that part of the conversation for this year's Black History Month is Biden’s decision to nominate a Black woman to the supreme court this month.

“This is the opportunity of starting Black History Month, looking at National Freedom Day, and we’ll have the first African-American woman nominated to sit on the Supreme Court,’ said Fortney. “I think that’s where it’s going to kind of go today.”