Opal Lee’s Annual Walk Was Extra Special Saturday After Juneteenth Becomes Federal Holiday

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – It was quite the day for Ms. Opal Lee on Saturday as she celebrated Juneteenth through her annual walk. But it was extra special this year as she also marked the success of June 19 becoming a federal holiday.

From Evans Avenue Plaza to the courthouse downtown, Lee led a crowd as she always has.

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“I’m so grateful for all your beautiful people,” Lee told the crowd.

Known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, each year she walks 2.5 miles, representing the 2.5 years it took for the news of freedom to reach slaves in Texas.

“This is the beginning of our getting the disparities out of our communities so we can work as one,” Lee said.

In front of the courthouse, the crowd cheered her on and raised both a Juneteenth flag and an American one.

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“As an educator in Fort Worth, it’s just an amazing event to be able to discuss with my students that we can still make history,” attendee Tamika Dees said.

It was apparent Lee’s words reached the crowd.

“Please continue the kinds of things that you know we need to become one people, you hear? It’s not a White thing. It’s not a Black thing. It’s an American thing,” Lee said.

And, as always, her message was clear and hopeful.

“If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love,” she said.

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Celebrations like this weren’t just in Texas. People took that 2.5 mile walk in cities across the country, such as Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York and Detroit.

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth