93-year-old Texas woman starts petition to make Juneteenth national holiday

FORT WORTH, Texas (KTRK) -- At 93-years-old, Fort Worth resident Opal Lee is not slowing down.

She travels the country spreading knowledge about Juneteenth and is urging Americans to demand June 19 be recognized as a national holiday.

WHAT IS JUNETEENTH? Read up on the history

Her reasons for being so active?

"I don't know, it goes a long way back," she tells ABC13 in a virtual interview.

Her visits to Southeast Texas have been documented by ABC13 cameras throughout the years.

During every stop, Lee walks 2.5 miles in recognition of the two and half years slaves in Texas had to wait after the Emancipation Proclamation to finally gain freedom.

She shared a particularly painful Juneteenth memory that she says pushed her forward in her work.

"My family losing its home to racists," she said. "People who didn't want us in the neighborhood, they burned the house down and drug out the furniture on the 19th of June 1939."

Juneteenth celebrations across the country will look different this year due to COVID-19.

Lee will be celebrating in Fort Worth with a car caravan instead of a parade.

She will walk 2.5 miles next to cars and will keep a safe distance.

In addition, she is now asking for signatures for an online petition asking for a Juneteenth national holiday, something she believes the significant date deserves.

"Girl, I would probably do a holy dance. I would be so glad," she said. "I don't know what I would do. I would probably show out."

You can sign the change.org petition here.

SEE ALSO: Push to make Juneteenth a national holiday gaining support

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