Opal Lee is a force for change. Retired African American teacher, counselor, and activist, Lee is known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth”. She led the charge for decades to ensure that Juneteenth received the recognition it deserved.
In 2016, Lee walked from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington, D.C. to gain support from Congress to make Juneteenth a national holiday. She walked two and a half miles daily to symbolize the two and a half years that Black Texans waited to learn they were free. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, abolishing slavery. That message arrived in Galveston, Texas, where black people were still enslaved, on June 19, 1865.
After years of persistence and hundreds of miles walked, Opal Lee’s mission to make Juneteenth a federal holiday became a reality. On June 17th, 2021, President Biden signed the historic date into law, as the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act. Opal Lee stood alongside him.
Today we celebrate Opal Lee as we close out the last day of Black History Month. Black History and Women’s History is American History.
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