Opal Lee, the Grandmother of Juneteenth, will lead the community on June 19 in her annual 2.5-mile walk at the African American Museum of Dallas to recognize the two and a half years it took for the news of freedom to reach enslaved people in Texas.

Opal’s Walk for Freedom starts at 9 a.m. Wednesday, June 19, beginning at the African American Museum of Dallas at 3536 Grand Ave. It will cost $35 for adults to participate in the walk; $10 for spectators; and $15 for non-walkers to buy a shirt.

Advertisement

The walk that started in 2016 lobbied for establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday. Following its official designation in 2021, the walk now focuses on educating people about the celebration of freedom, said Dione Sims, Lee’s granddaughter and president and founder of Unity Unlimited Inc. that manages the walk.

Breaking News

Get the latest breaking news from North Texas and beyond.

Unity Unlimited is a nonprofit that helps young people confront and defy racial stereotyping.

Walkers will assemble in Dallas this year instead of Fort Worth, highlighting the wide impact Juneteenth has in other cities around the country, Sims said.

Advertisement
Surrounded by a crowd and media members, Grandmother of Juneteenth, Opal Lee, starts off...
Surrounded by a crowd and media members, Grandmother of Juneteenth, Opal Lee, starts off Opal’s Walk for Freedom on Monday, June 19, 2023, in Fort Worth.(Shafkat Anowar / Staff Photographer)

Cities across the country and world are expected to have walks to coincide with the walk in Texas, including in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City and Tokyo.

In 2025, Opal’s walk will return to Fort Worth, followed by Washington, D.C., in 2026 at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Advertisement

For years, Lee championed for national recognition of Juneteenth as a holiday to commemorate the day Union soldiers arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Lincoln had signed more than two years earlier.

In 2016, an 89-year-old Lee campaigned for the national holiday with a symbolic walk to Washington, D.C., crossing 14 states and 1,400 miles.

She relaunched the campaign in 2019, crossing over seven states until the COVID-19 pandemic eventually cut the trip short. On Juneteenth in 2020, Lee walked 2.5 miles down Lancaster Avenue from the Fort Worth Convention Center to the Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium.

Lee watched on June 17, 2021, as President Joe Biden signed the bill to nationally recognize the holiday.

To help support a planned National Juneteenth Museum, $6.19 from each registration for the walk will contribute to a fundraising campaign for programs at Unity Unlimited and the museum, which is scheduled to open in 2026.

Walkers must register at OpalsWalkDallasTX.raceroster.com prior to the event.

Advertisement
Related Stories