HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) — The Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park is gearing up to celebrate National Freedom Day by honoring the life and legacy of Robert Smalls.

The celebration will be held on Saturday, February 4th, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Smalls was born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina. He freed himself, his crew, and their families during the American Civil War by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, CSS Planter, in Charleston harbor, on May 13, 1862, and sailing it from Confederate-controlled waters of the harbor to the U.S. blockade that surrounded it.

He then piloted the ship to the Union-controlled enclave in the Beaufort-Port Royal-Hilton Head area, where it became a Union warship. His example and persuasion helped convince President Abraham Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Union Army.

Special guests will include the great-great-grandson of Robert Smalls, Michael Boulware Moore, who will speak on his ancestors’ legacy in the Lowcountry and beyond. Hilton Head Island Gullah artist Quentin Smalls will perform his rap ballad about the history of Robert Smalls, along with performances by the Claflin University Concert Choir.

For more information visit exploremitchellville.org or call 843-255-7301.