Activist Opal Lee is one step closer to fulfilling her goal of making Juneteenth a national holiday. The 94-year-old Texas resident flew from Fort Worth to the nation's capital to make an impassioned plea to fellow Americans about her campaign. After years of hard work, it appears that her words have been heard up on Capitol Hill. Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have agreed to reintroduce legislation that would make Juneteenth a national holiday. Leading the way, Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts is committed to turning Lee's dream into a reality.
"For too long, we have tried to whitewash our nation's history instead of confronting the uncomfortable and painful truth," Markey said.
"This legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday is but one step we can take to begin to right the wrongs of the past and ensure equal justice in the future."
Lee's commitment to the cause stretches far beyond this week's decision. Over time, she's walked from Fort Worth to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness for her cause. She's also gathered nearly 2 million signatures for her petition to make Juneteenth a national holiday. She even told CNN that she started doing a "holy dance" when she learned that Markey had reintroduced the bill. If passed, Markey believes Juneteenth will go a long way toward bringing people together and commemorating history.
"We need to be aware that we can do so much more together than being apart," Lee said.
"We can pull our resources [together], learn from each other, and make the world a better place to live."
As she nears her 95th birthday, Lee is showing no signs of slowing down. Expect her to continue to travel back and forth from Texas to the nation's capital as the bill makes its way around Capitol Hill.
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