WASHINGTON, DC – A journey that began in Fort Worth eventually reached the White House.
94-year-old Opal Lee’s mission to make Juneteenth a federal holiday came true Thursday.
After years of perseverance and hundreds of miles on foot, Lee could see her hard work personally come to life.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Opal Lee (2nd L), the activist known as Juneteenth’s grandmother, watch U.S. President Joe Biden wash in on the 17th
The White House invited Lee to see President Joe Biden sign the June 19 bill that officially made June 19 a national holiday. On that day in 1865, the last enslaved African Americans were granted freedom all the way in Galveston.
Lee made his way to the White House from Fort Worth a few hours beforehand. Before making some special comments, she received a special greeting from President Biden.
MORE: Biden signs law making June thenth a federal holiday
“We’re here to see President Joe Biden declare Juneteenth a national holiday,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “We have come a long way and we still have to go a long way, but today is a day to celebrate.”
Harris was succeeded by President Biden, who spoke of acknowledging the past before being named the newest federal holiday official.
“I was honored to meet you a year ago. She told me she loved me and I believe her, ”Biden said of Lee. “Mrs. Opal, you are amazing. A daughter from Texas!”
WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 17: (LR) 94 year old activist and retired educator Opal Lee, known as the grandmother of Juneteenth, speaks to United States President Joe Biden after he enacted the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act ? Easy
Lee’s past explains her passion. In 1939, when she was just 12 years old, a white mob burned down her family home. Ironically, it happened on June 19th.
Lee later became a teacher and consultant in Fort Worth. She also worked with the Tarrant County Black Historical Genealogy Society, which organized the Juneteenth celebrations in the 1970s.
Fast forward to 2016, at the age of 89, Lee expanded her annual walk campaign. The petition garnered more than a million and a half signatures for a national holiday in June, which it presented to then-President Barack Obama.
Now Lee’s dream comes true: Juneteenth is a national holiday.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Opal Lee (2nd L), the activist known as the grandmother of Juneteenth, watch U.S. President Joe Biden on the 17th,
FOX will be streaming a live stream of Opal Lee’s walk this Saturday starting at 10 a.m. You can follow the event on FOX Soul, which is available online and through Tubi, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and other service providers.
Opal Lee celebrates as the Juniteenth Act clears the final hurdle in legislation
94-year-old Opal Lee continues her quest to make Juneteenth a national holiday
Fort Worth grandma, 93, leads the march to make Juneteenth a national holiday
90-year-old woman walking 1,300 miles to DC