FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A caravan of cars made its way through Fort Worth this morning to mark Juneteenth. The group’s leader was a 93-year-old activist fighting to get this day the recognition it deserves.
Mrs. Opal Lee began the 2.5 mile trek from downtown to Will Rogers Coliseum at about 10 a.m. Friday morning.
The walk is part of her campaign to get Juneteenth recognized as a national holiday.
“I think that the climate now – the protesters, the virus – seems to make it urgent that we get something done as quickly as possible,” Lee said.
Dozens of cars followed her, many with signs in support of her life’s mission to raise awareness about this historic day.
The 2.5 mile journey symbolizes the 2.5 years it took for news of the Emancipation Proclamation to reach enslaved people in Texas.
Lee’s years-long effort to get national recognition for this day of freedom has gained momentum in recent weeks after the police killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed.
Her online petition has garnered more than 400,000 signatures so far.
“Sign our petition,” said Lee. “We are trying to give Congress a million signatures so they know it’s not just one little old lady in tennis shoes in our national Juneteenth observance group. We want Congress to know that there are people who are interested in Juneteenth being a national holiday”
Thursday afternoon, Texas Sen. John Cornyn announced he will introduce bipartisan legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Lee is hopeful she’ll get to see it happen in her lifetime.
If not, she says it’s up to the next generation to continue her fight. She wants to see the young people who have been out protesting take that energy and really get things changed.