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National Wide Awakes Day

When is National Wide Awakes Day? This day will take place on October 3 of each calendar year.

What is National Wide Awakes Day? The Wide Awakes of 1860 were a grassroots political movement in the United States – a force behind abolition who supported the election of Abraham Lincoln. Through collective action and the dissemination of powerful visuals, texts and songs, the original Wide Awakes allowed people to envision a world in which abolition was possible. On October 3rd of 1860 the Wide Awakes marched in the name of emancipation with massive torchlight parades around the country; in Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, and through lower Manhattan, all carrying lanterns and clad in oilcloth cloaks.

Why is this day being celebrated or observed?

Over the course of 2020, a collective of artists reignited the mission of the original Wide Awakes. On October 3rd, 2020, we dedicated the day to activating JOY towards civic action and global collaboration.


  • Created a joyful, mindful, aesthetically vibrant, and music-filled atmosphere

  • Facilitated safe, respectful, social-distanced demonstrations

  • Encouraged the exercise of one’s civic duties & participation

As a result, the Wide Awakes are an open-source network who believe in the evolution of society using our power to radically reimagine the future through creative collaboration and move past performativity and into action. We have incredible leaders among us and are collectively changing the world.


We are inspired by the legacy of emancipation and welcome the ideas and membership of ALL as we grow this movement to create a new culture together in pursuit of liberation of mind, body, and spirit. Through collective gatherings and expressions of joy, we can enact paradigm shifts to the systems that seem intractable, just as our forebears did in 1860. 

Emancipation is an infinite practice—none of us are free until all of us are free, and we have a responsibility to imagine a present in which freedom is possible. Moving forward, we want to share this day with everyone and inspire a continuous effort toward activating civic joy. We want to invite everyone to be a Wide Awake!

How should this day be celebrated or observed? Join the likes of many collaborators globally to imagine possibilities together and create the world in which we want to live. Inspire global solidarity by creating activations (awakenings) in your community that inspire civic joy and participation. Create and wear your Wide Awakes cape. Initiate marches and rallying points with your community on October 3rd to bring people together to inspire action.  Check the Wide Awakes website for our open source toolkit to see how you can get more involved.

Who created this day? This day was created in June 2021 by For Freedoms.