Meet Opah Lee, ‘Grandmother of Juneteenth’ holiday

Opal Lee popularly known as Grandmother of Juneteenth dedicated her lifetime fighting to get Juneteenth recognized as a Federal holiday.

Recall that President Joe Biden officially made Juneteenth a federal holiday back in 2021.

Who is Opah Lee?

The 93-year-old Opah Lee is a native of Forth Worth, Texas.

She is an American retired teacher, counsellor and activist.

Her activism for Juneteenth to be recognized as a Federal holiday was borne out of personal experience.

Lee’s home was set on fire by White rioters on Juneteenth in 1939.

This incident inspired her activism, pushing her to “make people understand that Juneteenth is not a festival.

“It should be a unifier, the slaves didn’t free themselves. It took all kinds of people, Quakers, abolitionists, to get the slaves free.” she told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Back in 2016, Lee trekked an impressive 1,400 miles to Washington, D.C., advocating for Juneteenth to be recognized as a federal holiday, with stops for symbolic walks along the way in various cities, as reported by Variety.

Fast forward to May 2024, Lee’s dedication and hard work were recognized when she received her eighth honorary doctorate, a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Southern Methodist University.

Additionally, she was honored with the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Biden for her pivotal role in establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday.

This Juneteenth celebration, Lee was given a new home “built on the site of the childhood home that was reduced to ashes.”

She walks two-and-a-half miles each year as a symbolic gesture and advocating for Juneteenth as a federal holiday show her commitment to this important cause.

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