DENTON, Texas (KXAN) — Opal Lee, recognized as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth,” celebrated with graduates at the University of North Texas over the weekend.
The 96-year-old Marshall native received an honorary doctorate degree Sunday as part of UNT’s Spring Commencement.
Lee graduated from UNT with a Master of Education in 1963.
She, a retired educator, was pivotal in the push to make Juneteenth a national holiday.
In 2016, she started walking two and a half miles in cities all across the country. Those miles symbolized the two and a half years it took for word to get out to all slaves that they were free.
And crowds began joining her. Those walks led President Joe Biden to sign a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2021.
Lee was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022. She was also honored by the Texas Senate in February, with her portrait going on display at the Capitol to honor her leadership and legacy.