Opal Lee, known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” helped celebrate the holiday in Fort Worth, Texas.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, on June 18 (Saturday) Lee and hundreds of people marched 2.5 miles through Fort Worth. Though the day was full of joy and appreciation in the midst of a scorching hot day, Lee, 95, says there’s more to be done.
“Juneteenth is freedom, and I’m advocating that we celebrate freedom from the 19th of June to the 4th of July, but I want you to make yourself a committee of one, because you know people who aren’t on the same page as you,” she said following the three hour walk.
On June 19, 1865, freedom of African American slaves became proclaimed in Texas, after a 2.5 year wait.
More than a century and a half later, the emancipation is now celebrated and recognized as a federal holiday in the United States.
Lee continues to advocate for social justice and equality for Black people; she pushes for a vast majority of people to be on the same page. Her initial goal was to gain 100,000 signatures, but with the help of celebrities like Diddy, the petition garnered over 1.5 million signatures and was taken to congress to push for Juneteenth to become a federal holiday. The petition is still being signed by people to this day.
President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law on June 17, 2021.
Lee continued her speech on stage after the walk.
“If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love and it’s up to you to change it,” she said.