AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – State lawmakers welcomed 94-year-old activist Opal Lee of Fort Worth to the Senate Floor on Thursday, July 22 to celebrate her “determination and lifetime of work to make Juneteenth a national holiday,” with Senate Resolution 19.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also announced he will recommend the Senate have a portrait of Opal Lee made and added to the chamber.
“Ms. Opal and her legacy will now live in the immortal halls of history and the Texas Capitol,” State Sen. Beverly Powell’s office said in a news release.
An author, a community volunteer, a retired teacher, a champion of creating economic opportunities, and civil rights leader, Opal Lee has worn many hats in her march for equality.
Lee said as she addressed Senators, getting Juneteenth designated as a national holiday is a “we thing, not a me thing.”
She said there is so much more to do.
“We are blessed to call ‘Ms. Opal,’ as we lovingly call her in Fort Worth, a daughter of Texas,” said Senator Powell. “Because of her determination, every year the American people will pause on June 19th to remember this dark part of our history and celebrate what is possible when we unite and commit to a better, brighter future. On behalf of the Texas Senate and our great state, thank you, Ms. Opal. And thank you Senate members, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and all who joined us, for this historic occasion. I am grateful for the outpouring of support by the Lt. Governor and members of the Senate today. As Ms. Opal said from the dias this afternoon, we are stronger when we are united as one.”
Juneteenth celebrates June 19, 1865, marking the true end of slavery in the U.S.
On that day, slaves in Galveston were informed of their freedom by federal troops, about two months after the end of the Civil War and two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.