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'Grandmother of Juneteenth' Opal Lee to speak at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum

Opal Lee.
Alejandra Martinez
Opal Lee's efforts to make Juneteenth a national holiday culminated with President Joe Biden signing a bill into law declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday.

Opal Lee, known as the "Grandmother of Juneteenth" for her efforts to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, will speak at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum’s Funk Family Upstander Speaker Series on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Story updated Feb. 7, 12:45 p.m.

Lee walked across the country from her home in Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., in 2016 to push for federal recognition of Juneteenth. As result of her efforts, President Joe Biden signed a bill in 2021 declaring it a national holiday.

Since this accomplishment, Lee has been active in running Opal Farms, an urban farm established to address food deserts in the Fort Worth area.

In 2022, she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was declared a “civil rights icon” by a congressional group in support of her nomination.

Mary Pat Higgins, DHHRM president and CEO, said the museum often invites speakers during observance of cultural heritage months as often as possible.

"We are delighted that we have the opportunity to learn from Miss Lee during Black History Month." Higgins said.

"I hope that North Texans can come together to celebrate Miss Lee. We have a living legend here in our community," she said, adding that she sees Lee's involvement in the series as a way to unite North Texas.

The Funk Family Upstander Speaker Series showcases individuals and organizations who stand up for human rights on a local, national or international level.

Although in-person tickets for this event have since sold out, a virtual option is available at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum website.

Got a tip? Email Brittany Stubblefield-Engram at

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Brittany Stubblefield-Engram is the Digital Engagement Fellow for Arts Access. She previously served as the Marjorie Welch Fitts Louis Fellow for the KERA newsroom. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, she received her Bachelors of Applied Arts and Sciences from the University of North Texas at Dallas. She is a Hip-Hop scholar and prior to her trajectory into journalism, Brittany worked in non-profit management.