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94-year-old activist led symbolic 2.5-mile Juneteenth march

Opal Lee spent more than four decades working to highlight Juneteenth and turn it into a national holiday

FORT WORTH, Texas — Opal Lee, otherwise known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth," led the symbolic 2.5-mile Fort Worth march on Saturday, June 19, to commemorate Juneteenth.

The 94-year-old activist spent more than four decades working to highlight Juneteenth and turn it into a national holiday

Lee's 2.5-mile walk symbolizes the time it took for slaves in Texas to learn of their freedom. Lee hopes that others continue to speak out about issues they believe in.

“Please continue to speak out on the kinds of things that you know we need to fix to become one people,” she said. “It is not a white thing. It is not a black thing. It is an American thing.”

Lee was at the White House when President Joe Biden signed the a bill officially making Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Related: Juneteenth celebrated across Texas with new, deeper meaning

Across the state of Texas, Juneteenth was celebrated with a new and deeper meaning.

In Galveston, a new mural, named Absolute Equality, was dedicated.

The 5-thousand-square-foot painting stands at the exact spot where a union general issued an order demanding absolute equality for enslaved African Americans in Texas.

The Orange community also gathered  to celebrate the now federal holiday at the city’s Riverfront Pavilion.

The event was called “Juneteenth in the Fruit.”

“Juneteenth becoming a national holiday, it means a lot to us as Black people," one of the organizers said.

Related: Beaumont's 20th annual Juneteenth celebration has new significance

At Tyrrell Park, the Beaumont community celebrated the 20th annual Juneteenth festival with music, free food and fellowship.

Festival organizer Stacey Lewis said it is long overdue to see Juneteenth become a national holiday.

“The city has been celebrating it anyways,” Lewis said. “I guess we can say the rest of the country is catching up, and I think we are on the right side of history right now.”

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