Opal Lee

In the face of adversity, Ms. Opal Lee stands strong. While Opal Lee describes herself as “just a little old lady in tennis shoes getting in everybody’s business,” others describe her as a legend, and the “Grandmother of Juneteenth”. She has been a strong advocate for keeping America grounded in what freedom means. In truth, we are not free until everyone is free. 

Juneteenth has been a reoccurring day of significance in Ms. Opal Lee’s life. On Juneteenth of 1939, a white mob of about 500 showed up outside of her family’s newly bought home to burn and destroy all that it was. Ms. Opal Lee was thirteen when this happened. She has since dedicated her life to uplifting her community as an educator and an activist.

In 2016, Ms. Opal Lee started planning her 1,400 mile walk from Fort Worth, TX to Washington, DC to gain support for making Juneteenth a National Holiday. Each day she traveled 2.5 miles, signifying the 2.5 years black Texans waited for enforcement of their freedom. Her petition was a success, gaining over 1.5 million signatures! 

In 2017, President Biden signed a bill making Juneteenth a National Holiday, with Ms. Opal Lee by his side. She continues her 2.5 mile walks annually and has welcomed others to do so nationwide. Her advocacy for the community extends to addressing food and employment insecurities through work at Opal’s Farm. This year on Juneteenth, Ms. Opal Lee will also be claiming her family’s land back for $10.