Activist Opal Lee has been nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.
Opal Lee is often called the “grandmother of Juneteenth”. Her vision was to declare the nineteenth of June a national holiday, which is now celebrated as emancipation day in America. Opal Lee has been nominated to receive the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work to establish ‘Juneteenth’ as a national holiday.
In 2016, at the age of 89, Opal Lee walked a distance of 1,400 miles, from her home in Texas to the nation’s capital in Washinting DC, as part of her effort to get the holiday officially recognized. Her efforts succeeded in 2021, with President Joe Biden signing a bill that officially made Juneteenth a holiday.
Opal Lee worked through her adult life to bring awareness to the struggles of the American people. She worked as a teacher and counselor for Fort Worth Independent School District until her retirement in 1977. The activist has been actively involved with many communities working for the betterment of people.
She also helped found the Tarrant County Black Historical & Genealogical Society, which is dedicated to the preservation of African-American historical contributions in multiple fields. Along with this, she also directs The Community Food Bank, formerly the Metroplex Food Bank. They battle hunger and poverty with food and education programs to rehabilitate the unfortunate.
Every year on June 19, she would walk two and a half miles to symbolize the two and half years it took for enslaved Texans to learn they were free. In her interview for Lifetime Entertainment, she mentions, “I want all Americans to understand that none of us are free until we are all free!” She also expressed with WFAA-TV, “If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love”.
On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger and his troops traveled to Galveston, Texas, to let those who were enslaved at the time know that they were free. This message was delivered two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation. Since then, this day has been come to be known as ‘Juneteenth’.
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Feature Image Via PinkTeaPop.