Woman, 92, campaigns to make Juneteenth a national holiday

HOUSTON -- One woman who attended the Democratic debate in Houston, Texas Thursday brought a cause of her own.

Opal Lee, 92, is pushing efforts to make the Juneteenth celebration a national holiday.

Juneteenth, which is observed on June 19, celebrates the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all the remaining slaves in Texas in 1865.

RELATED: What is Juneteenth?

"Juneteenth has been my passion for over 40 years," Lee said. "There's no reason for it not to be a national holiday."

Lee lives in town from Fort Worth, and is hoping to talk with the candidates about her cause.

"I have no idea who's going to be president, so I'll just lobby all of them," Lee said.

Lee has traveled across the country, where she walks two and a half miles in each city she travels to, sharing her efforts for a national Juneteenth holiday. She walks to symbolize the two and a half years it took for the Emancipation Proclamation message to get to Texas, freeing slaves across the state.

To prepare, she walks a mile each morning. "At 92, I need to keep the legs and things going," Lee said.

She'll walk in Galveston on Saturday, where the proclamation was first read in Texas and where Juneteenth started. She'll walk to the Juneteenth Historical Market starting at 8 a.m. Saturday.

"Juneteenth is a unifier," Lee said. "We've got to heal from this slavery business and get on with the work of a decent healthcare system and get our education system up to par."
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