June 19th, 2022, the US nation is celebrating Juneteenth as a National Holiday. The celebration is the second following the event held on Thursday, June 17, 2020, when US President Joe Biden signed a bill into law, making June 19 a national holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved black Americans.
The signature event was attended by Opal Lee. Opal Lee, affectionately known as the grandmother of Juneteenth by Blacks and those concerned who have been following her fight, is 95 years-old.
Opal Lee was born on 7 October 1926 in Marshall, Texas. When Ms Opal Lee was 12 years old, on June 19, 1939, a mob of white supremacists attacked, vandalized and burned to the ground her family's home in Fort Worth, Texas as police stood by, doing nothing to stop the violence. Her family was attacked for having moved to a white neighborhood.
Her close people, the Black community in general and the caring people around the world waited for 155 years, 11 months and 28 days, to have the events around June 19th being officially recognized.
For June 19, 2022, Opal Lee invited people to join her on her annual Walk for Freedom. Several people gathered around her, eager to take a picture with her and get signed copies of her book. A two-and-half mile walk will be help on Saturday June 16, 2022.
Juneteenth commemoration marks the event when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, to spread the news of the Emancipation Proclamation outlawing slavery in Confederate states, which had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln more than two years earlier (see here: US: Juneteenth, or June 19th, Becomes A National Holiday To Commemorate the End of Slavery).
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Opal Lee has spent decades as an activist and in Juneteenth celebrations and more than 40 years advocating the recognition of the event. In her activism, she launched a walking campaign in cities, from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C.
It was not easy to convince the US Congress to recognize Juneteenth as a National Holiday.
In fact, the latest National Holiday bill was signed in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan to recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a celebration of Rev Marthin Luther King Jr.'s contribution to the civil rights movement. It took 15 years, following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 to 1983.
Juneteenth as National Holiday has been a step in the right direction, but the road to the equality for all remains long.
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Accross the nation, the event is being commemorated with all types of events, including marches, races, and protests. Activists, civil rights activists, and others have been calling for more actions to address the consequences of slavery. These actions include racial justice, prison and police reforms, reinforcement of measures against racism, and fairness, unbiased, unprejudiced, nondiscriminatory, anti-discriminatory practices in education, wealth creation, and economic opportunities. With these actions Juneteenth commemoration will move from symbolism to substance. Until then, the marches and walks will highlight the many bridges still to cross towards total freedom for Blacks in America.
In Atlanta, GA, the people plan to hold the JuneTeenth ATL 5K, a race created to honor June 19th, 1865, as a significant American History, while promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. There will also be another major event, The Black Music and Entertainment Walk of Fame, to recognize and honor trailblazing artists, iconic entertainers, and luminaries who have impacted both Black culture and the community. In the event, several areas of the black culture will be highlighted, including art, live entertainment, music, food, dance, and fun for all ages.
In Louisville, KY, several events were held on Saturday, June 18, 2022 with events around the city to recognize the holiday. The events include Race for Justice, with walks or races around the West End track to honor Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old Black woman killed by police in 2020. The killing sparked months of protests.
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