One Woman’s Decades-Long Fight To Make Juneteenth A U.S. Holiday

Opal Lee, in 2021, just before President Biden signed the bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Amanda McCoy/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

From NPR.org | “We can all finally celebrate. The whole country together,” says Opal Lee, 94, who has been working for years to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Read More About Opal Lee Here.

Also from NPR Morning Edition and Up First host, Michel Martin:

“[Juneteenth] commemorates the day federal troops arrived to enforce The Emancipation Proclamation in Texas some two years after it was issued. More broadly, though, it celebrates the end of chattel slavery. To my mind, it celebrates the beginning of true freedom because — as moral philosophers have long known — no one is free until everyone is because oppression ensnares the oppressor as well as the oppressed. Anyone who has ever been in a toxic relationship knows that.

That is one reason the magnificent Opal Lee, the Fort Worth native known as the grandmother of Juneteenth, worked so hard and so long to see Juneteenth become a federal holiday. A white mob burned down her family home in 1939. She became an educator and an activist and saw the day become a federal holiday last year. She told her local station KTVT, ‘It’s not a Texas thing or a Black thing. It’s an American thing.’

Go celebrate.

~ Michel Martin