DALLAS — Juneteenth is now a national holiday. And one woman from Fort Worth played a major role in making that happen.
Opal Lee, a former teacher who's long been a Civil Rights icon, was standing beside President Joe Biden when he signed a bill last summer, making Juneteenth an official federal holiday.
And this year, Lee, known as the "Grandmother of Juneteenth," joined WFAA anchor Tashara Parker for a candid conversation about Juneteenth and her life's work.
The conversation aired during an hour-long special on WFAA at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 18. WFAA will also live-streamed coverage of Lee's "Walk for Freedom" at 10 a.m. Saturday on WFAA.com.
Lee had pushed for more than a decade to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
Juneteenth has long been celebrated in Texas. The holiday commemorates when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, in 1865.
In various interviews with WFAA through the years, she emphasized the importance of recognizing Juneteenth on a national level.
In her younger years, Lee helped organize the city’s Juneteenth celebration and used it as a fundraiser for local nonprofits.
“I'm passionate about having Juneteenth a national holiday, and I feel Juneteenth is a unifier,” Lee told WFAA last year, before Biden signed the Juneteenth bill. “I'm wanting us to unite so that we can address the disparities that are happening to us now.”