When President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, Biden got down on bended knee to thank activist Opal Lee for all she has done to fight for Juneteenth to be a federal holiday. Unbeknownst to some, Opal Lee, a 94-year-old Texas-bred educator, is major player in this win.
“We’re blessed to mark the day in the presence of Miss Opal Lee. As my mother would say, ‘God love her,'” Biden said at the signing. “Miss Opal, you’re incredible. Grandmother of the movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. You’re an incredible woman, Miss Opal, you really are.”
After Biden and Harris signed the new law, Lee gushed about Juneteenth being an official holiday on social media.
“Wow! I am beyond excited to see my lifelong dream and mission of making Juneteenth a national holiday become reality,” she captioned an Instagram post. “As we wait for the final step of presidential sign-off, I am beyond grateful to all who have helped make this happen. After years of preaching the importance of Juneteenth as a unifier for our country, I’m thrilled to see our country finally recognize it as the national holiday that it should be. Thank you to everyone who helped us achieve this incredible milestone in our mission to spread unity, love, and equality. Now, let’s celebrate freedom from the 19th of June to the Fourth of July!”
But why is Lee deemed the “Grandmother of Juneteenth?” Here’s what you need to know about Lee.