Ms. Opal lee "Grandmother of Juneteenth", Social Impact Leader

"At 94, to have Juneteenth made a National holiday in my lifetime is unbelievable...I could do a holy dance" - Opal Lee

Opal's DC Petition Drop, 2020

Ms. Opal's Bio:

Early Life:

Opal Lee was born October 7, 1926 in Marshall, Texas. Her mother moved to Fort Worth when she was ten years old. She attended Cooper Street Elementary School and graduated from Historic I.M. Terrell High School in 1943 at the age of 16.

Education & Career:

She didn’t go straight to college after graduation which was a grave disappointment to her mother, but did eventually get there after getting married, having four children and getting divorced. She earned her Bachelors of Arts degree in 1953 from Wiley College (now Wiley University) and returned to Fort Worth to teach at Amanda McCoy Elementary School for 15 years where she was regarded as one of the best educators in her field. At night she worked at Convair (now Lockheed Martin) to support her children. She later obtained her Master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance from North Texas State University and served as Home/School Counselor for Fort Worth Independent School District until her retirement in 1977.

Opal and Former President Barack Obama, 2016

Retirement & Community Activism:

Retiring gave Mrs. Lee the time and opportunity to become even more involved in the community. She was one of the founding members of Citizens Concerned with Human Dignity (CCHD) which was formed to assist the economically disadvantage in finding housing in Fort Worth. She volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, and served as a member of the board. She now serves on Habitat’s Land Acquisition Board.

With Lenora Rolla as its inspiration, Mrs. Lee helped establish the Tarrant County Black Historical & Genealogical Society dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Fort Worth Black populace. She served on the Historic & Cultural Landmarks Commission, AIDS Outreach committee, Evans Avenue Business Association, Good Samaritans, and Riverside Neighborhood Advisory Council.

She has served as Precinct Chair for District 8 for over 30 years, a member of Grandmother’s Club, and Ethel Ransom Humanitarian & Cultural Club. She is an active member in her church, Baker Chapel AME where she serves as a Missionary, church school teacher, assistant teacher and Deaconess.

On June 17, 2021, President Biden passed a bill making Juneteenth a National holiday. Ms. Opal stood alongside the president during this historic occasion and received the pen in which he used to sign off on the law

Visit Fort Worth 2021 Hospitality Award:

Opal Lee

Ms. Opal Lee recently received Visit Fort Worth's 2021 Hospitality Award at its annual Visit Fort Worth breakfast. The above video recaps the incredible impact that Ms. Opal Lee has made on her community, recognized by Visit Fort Worth.

Opal's Walk to DC

Ms. Opal Lee has been devoted to preserving the history and timeline of the emancipation of Texas slaves and the unifying effect of understanding that “None of us are free, until we are all free.”

In partnership with Phylonalds Agency Productions, we have developed a full length documentary that will educate viewers on the importance of Juneteenth and highlight Opals Walk 2 DC, Ms. Opal’s symbolic walking campaign at 90 years old to Washington, DC to make June 19th a National Day of Observance.

Opal's Farm

Tarrant Regional Water District granted a lease of 13 acres of land to be used as an urban farm. Opal’s Farm will address the issues of food scarcity and access while providing jobs, job training, entrepreneurial opportunity, and education for local neighborhoods. Since its ribbon cutting on February 15, 2019, we have produced two harvests and have been able to give to the community food banks and participate in farmers markets.

Juneteenth: The Play

Former Dallas Cowboy, Greg Ellis and Ms. Opal Lee believe in the importance of not forgetting the sacrifices others have made for us to have the freedoms we enjoy today. So, they joined forces to tell the important story of Juneteenth on stage.

Presenting: The Juneteenth Stage Play, which offers to tell the story of Juneteenth and answers questions like: Why were slaves in Texas freed 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation? And, What finally made Texas comply? A powerful story with an important message; prepare to be enlightened and entertained.

Ms. Opal Lee's

Juneteenth: A Children's Story

Many people have expressed that they have either not heard of Juneteenth or was under the impression that Juneteenth is just a " Texas thing". To aid in the education of the youth, Ms. Lee authored an easy to read book to explain the importance of Juneteenth and its origin.

Juneteenth FTW Celebration

Visit our website here.

Juneteenth celebrates the cultural and intergenerational diversity of our community. The festival main stage will host great local talent including dance teams, spoken word and poetry performers, R & B groups, Jazz groups, Hip Hop artists and gospel groups.

Opal's Walk Live

On June 19th, Ms. Opal Lee will embark on her annual 2.5 mile walk to recognize the 2.5 years it took for the news of freedom to reach all enslaved people in the United States.

Show your support for Ms. Opal Lee by walking with her.

Check out our trailer from our Juneteenth 2020 Opal's Walk Live celebration!

Keep scrolling to see more photos from the 2020 walk!

2021 Appearances

Honors & Awards

Recent Press

2020 Appearances

  • Evanston Juneteenth Celebrations, IL (video)
  • OGU Community BBQ, TX (in person)
  • CreWomen TV Mother's Day Tribute, NY (video)
  • CreWomen TV Father's Day Tribute, NY (video)
  • Trademark Church, TX (in person)
  • Juneteenth AF1 Shoe with Sierato (video)
  • Fort Worth Arts Council Boxed Lunch (video)
  • Philadelphia Juneteenth Celebration, PA (video)
  • Cook's Children Hospital, TX (video)
  • Miss Juneteenth Movie
  • The Winners Circle with Yolanda Gamble (video)
  • Live Free with Pastor Mike and Steve Kerr (video)
  • Soho Muse BLM Artist Speaks Panel Discussion (video)
  • PBS , 'The Life of Oscar Grant" (feature) , Washington, DC.
  • Revolt TV, "From Pain to Power" (feature), Washington, DC.
  • September 23rd Petition Drop to Congress, Washington DC (video)
  • Brunswick, GA Unity Walk with Ahmaud Arbery's Family
  • Legends and Legacies: Commentaries on Fort Worth's African American History
Created By
D'Aria Hookfin