Grandmother of Juneteenth launches Dallas story walk
Opal Lee delivered a simple message to Dallas elementary school students this week: "You can lead this country."
Driving the news: The Fort Worth icon visited children yesterday during the launch of the city's new Juneteenth Story Walk at Pacific Plaza Park in downtown Dallas.
- The park's walk features pages from the book about the Grandmother of Juneteenth, "Opal Lee and What it Means to Be Free."
Why it matters: Lee was integral to making June 19 a federal holiday to memorialize when the last enslaved people in Texas learned they were free, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.
- She calls the holiday the nation's true independence day.
What happened: After an introduction by Mayor Eric Johnson, the still-agile 95-year-old Lee moved the podium so the children could sit in the shade to hear her call to action.
- About a dozen gathered around Lee afterward to ask questions about her life and what it was like to walk to Washington.
- One boy declared: "I can't believe we're meeting Ms. Opal Lee. She's a legend here."
Flashback: The retired teacher told the children about how she started walking when she was 89 to call for Juneteenth to be made a national holiday, telling them it's never too early or too late to change the world.
What she's saying: Lee says children will be the ones to fix some of the country's ills, including homelessness, health care that isn't affordable for all and climate change.
- "I don't want to frighten them. I just want them to understand that they can do so much for us," she told Axios. "If they heard what I said, they'll be the ones to turn this country around, and it needs some turning."
More Dallas stories
No stories could be found
Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Dallas.