90-year-old woman walking 140,000 miles for national Juneteenth

Ninety-year-old Opal Lee

90-year-old woman walking 140,000 miles for national Juneteenth
November 10
02:15 2016

Opal Lee hoping to make it a national holiday



Ninety-year-old Opal Lee is on a mission to get President Barack Obama’s attention before he leaves office by walking 140,000 miles. Lee is walking from her hometown of Forth Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C., to hand deliver a petition to Obama demanding Juneteenth be made a national holiday.

“I’m going to walk right up there and ask the president and members of Congress what’s wrong with them,” she continued. “I see Juneteenth as a unifier. All kinds of people came together to free slaves and we need to know this. There is no reason why it should not be a national holiday,” Lee said.

Celebrated annually on June 19 in 45 states, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. In order to reach the White House Lee, is walking 10 miles each day.

Since beginning her journey on Sept. 1, she has already visited 10 different states and 23 cities. Along the way, she is sharing the history of Juneteenth with anyone willing to listen. Last week, Lee made a quick stop in Old Salem to inspire locals to sign the petition that needs 100,000 signatures.

While sitting in St. Phillips Moravian Church where the end of slavery was announced to local slaves in 1865, Lee said she dreams one day this country will have a Juneteenth theme park that will educate the young and old.

“Our nation is theme park happy,” she laughed. “So why not have a Juneteenth theme park to educate this generation and generations to come?”

“I want everyone to know what people went through to have this Juneteenth celebration.”

City human relations director Wanda Allen-Abraha, who helps coordinate the local Juneteenth Celebration said, she was inspired by Lee’s commitment to the cause.

“We’re all amazed by her drive, and passion to make this cross-country journey,” she said. “It was a real honor to be in the presence of someone so passionate about preserving the history of black people in this country.”

Lee is expected to reach the nations’ capital next month. To sign the petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday, visit

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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