In her 96 years, Opal Lee has lived through a lot of history -- the Great Depression, World War II, US Civil Rights Movement, voting for the first African American president of the United States, to name a few. She also made some history herself. In 2016, at the age of 89, the retired educator and community activist (who's lived through segregation and experienced rioters burning down her family's home in a white neighborhood at the age of 12), elevated the effort to make Juneteenth a U.S. federal holiday. The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865 -- when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed enslaved people and had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln two years prior. (Texas was the last former Confederate state to recognize emancipation.) In 2016, Lee's walking campaign took her from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington D.C. "I was thinking that surely, somebody would see a little old lady in tennis shoes trying to get to Congress and notice," she told CNN. Lee's walking campaign became an annual event until June 2021, when legislation for Juneteenth to become a federal holiday was passed and signed into law. Lee, now lovingly called the "grandmother of Juneteenth", was invited to the White House signing ceremony, where she received a standing ovation. Today, she continues to serve her community. Her latest efforts are towards a National Juneteenth Museum, slated to open in 2024. She also holds visions to address joblessness, homelessness, health care issues, and climate change. "Everyone has a part to play," she states, simply.

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