Ms. Opal Lee Delivers 1.5 Million Juneteenth Petition Signatures to Washington, DC as Part of Unity and Awareness Tour

By: Issuewire
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Fort Worth, Sep 25, 2020 (Issuewire.com) - On Wednesday, September 23, 2020, 93-year-old Social Impact Leader, Ms.Opal Lee rode into  Washington, D.C,  to deliver a portion of her 1.5 million petition signatures to congress. Arriving in Opal's Walk 2 DC wrapped SUV, the Texan met with leaders and community supporters which included the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation ( NJOF),  VIPsocio, Indigenous People's Movement( IDPM), INVNT,  and Virtual Media Entertainment (VME) who all walked from Lincoln Park United Methodist Church to Capitol Hill.

Featured speakers such as Representatives Shelia Lee-Jackson (D-TX) Marc Veasey (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA) all of whom Lee gave over 300, 000 physical signatures to and the remaining 1.2 million signatures were mailed directly to Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) who, on July 22nd, said that a new holiday would "give federal workers a paid day off that the rest of America has to pay for. Ms. Opal Lee thinks Sen. Johnson is missing the point - and would love to speak with him and urge him to change his vote. 

 "It is far past time for Congress to pass legislation that would designate Juneteenth--a day that commemorates the oldest known celebration of slavery's demise--a national holiday," said Congressman Marc Veasey (TX-33). "I was proud to join Reps. Jackson Lee (TX-18), Lee (CA-13) and Fort Worth civil legend, Opal Lee, today because we must pass the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act."

Recording Artist Niko Brim, who is being mentored by Lee, spoke eloquently on how and why the youth need to participate in and support the Juneteenth movement. Brim has been instrumental in collaborating press and co-hosting events such as Soho Muse's Black Lives Matter panel and the legendary Sothebys Hip Hop Auction whose Juneteenth Shoe that Lee helped design was auctioned off for $6,800.  It was a day filled with emotion, inspiration,  and passion with a performance by local poet Asha Watson "I am Juneteenth". People got to experience history being made as the delivery of these petitions can possibly change the mind of  Senator Ron Johnson. 

Sean 'Diddy' Combs was unable to attend and was represented by Tarik Brooks, COO of Combs Enterprises, whose speech spoke volumes as to the importance of corporations to take a stake in a case such as Juneteenth because it affects us all.

"We must be honest about our history if we're really going change our country," said Combs. "Ms. Opal's fight to make Juneteenth a National Holiday is important, and I'm honored to do what I can to help her achieve that goal."

Videos of the walk and press conference were streamed live on Facebook and Youtube and the official recap will be posted on Ms.Opal's website in the coming weeks.

Ms. Opal will continue to tour the nation spreading awareness of Juneteenth and gather more signatures as she waits for Congress to vote on the Juneteenth bills already before them -  H.R. 7232 and S.R. 4019. The first stop was in Virginia, where Lee followed a guided tour by Steve Williams, the president of NJOF who escorted her to a reading of her book "Juneteenth a Children's Story" to students doing distance learning at First Baptist Sterling on Negro Hill. She visited the African American Burial Ground for the Enslaved at Belmont curated by Pastor Michelle and was honored with a proclamation by Mayor Burks of Leesburg in Loudoun County, VA.

Ms.Opal urges everyone to follow her journey as her next stop will be in  Brunswick, GA, where she will be hosted by the Brunswick Juneteenth Chapter of NJOF. Lee will conduct her walk to the historical Colored School, do a book reading and attend a vigil for Ahmaud Arbery, who at age 25 was chased and murdered by a group of white men that ignited the nation causing multiple protests. While the country was still grappling with the civil unrest,  the senseless killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor further fueled the cry for change to happen NOW. Ms. Opal feels that Juneteenth can be the bridge that brings people together to start the conversation on race relations and it can be the vehicle that gets us further down the road toward equality. As she says, "Juneteenth is a unifier and to celebrate true FREEDOM you need to do it from the 19th of June until the 4th of July because slaves weren't free on July 4, 1776."

Information on more tour stops will be posted on Ms.Opal's site, so stay tuned for more details. In the interim sign the petition at www.juneteenth.us to help Ms.Opal keep the pressure on and awareness moving forward.

Ms.Opal Lee

Ms. Opal is the oldest living board member of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) founded and led by the late Dr. Ronald Myers, Sr., whose primary initiative is for Juneteenth to become a national holiday. To bring awareness to the cause, she started her Opal's Walks 2 DC campaign in 2016, where she walks 2.5 miles to symbolize the 2.5 years that it took for slaves in Texas to know that they were freed. 

Ms. Opal believes that what Dr. Martin Luther King said still holds true today, "None of us are free until we're all free." 

Unity Unlimited

Unity Unlimited, Inc. is a non-profit organization that is completely volunteer-driven with activities that help communities overcome racial and cultural division. The programs they produce provide educational activities and resources to foster unity and harmony regardless of race, culture, or denomination, including JuneteenthFTW. This community festival highlights the initiatives of the Grandmother of Juneteenth, Ms. Opal Lee, whose mission is to support human dignity through education, culture, and opportunity. Other initiatives of the organization include Opal's Farm to address food deserts in her community and Your Voice Unleashed, a free week-long fine arts workshop for the youth to build bridges of unity.

NJOF

NJOF is a national foundation, including hundreds of local organizations. that have been instrumental in Juneteenth Independence Day legislation.   The NJOF advances the right of Freedom through its initiatives, including education, health, music, art, and technology, creating opportunities for a better life for all.  By focusing on these key building blocks, the NJOF movement creates long-lasting community change. The NJOF is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.

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Source :Unity Unlimited, Inc. / Ms.Opal Lee

This article was originally published by IssueWire. Read the original article here.

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