Opal Lee has been working for decades to get Juneteenth recognized as a federal holiday. And the work finally paid off.
Known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, Lee witnessed President Joe Biden sign the long-awaited bill Thursday. She held hands with Vice President Kamala Harris, while others, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, observed.
This is very Biden— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) June 17, 2021
Gets down on one knee to greet Opal Lee
Kamala laughs sayin Lee “just received a VERY special recognition from the president”
Lee also received Biden’s first pen used to sign the historic legislation.
“You are an incredible woman,” Biden said about Lee during the official signing at the White House.
We're blessed to mark the day in the presence of Ms. Opal Lee," @POTUS said in acknowledging the push by the 94-year-old "grandmother of the movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday." pic.twitter.com/wbVEM1lNMA— Biden_Squadron (@BidenSquadron) June 17, 2021
The 94-year-old Texas activist and educator has walked thousands of miles across America to bring awareness to Juneteenth. She organized walking campaigns in cities like Dallas and Galveston and collected more than 1.5 million signatures in an online campaign.
“I’m going to keep walking until Juneteenth is a national holiday,” said Lee told KPRC 2 previously.
94-year-old community activist Opal Lee has pushed for years and years to make Juneteenth a federal holiday— Hi Friend (@FolukeFiasco) June 15, 2021
I’m so glad she finally gets to see her hard work pay offpic.twitter.com/gTkBuU9SJr
Juneteenth, also known as “Black Independence Day” and “Texas Emancipation Day,” is the day freedom from slavery was proclaimed in Texas. This was nearly two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
From Galveston to cities across America, the holiday is honored with parades, cookouts and festivals.
It is also a time of reflection, education and civic engagement.