Commemorating Juneteenth

By Diane Smith-Pinckney

Opal Lee
Credit: Rodger Mallison/ Star-Telegram

On June 19 1865, Major General Gordan Granger marched into Galveston with a critical message: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.” 

This was the opening sentence of General Order Number 3, which announced to Texans the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. 

That message, which came more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, marks the beginning of Juneteenth. It’s also called “Emancipation Day,” “Independence Day” and “Black Independence Day,” according to a Juneteenth Fact Sheet provided to U.S. 
congress members in 2017. 

Texas communities celebrate the end of slavery with prayer, family gatherings and history every June 19. Fort Worth has a tradition of recognizing Juneteenth. 

Fort Worth is home to social justice advocate Opal L. Lee, 94. Lee, who is known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth, has pushed to make Juneteenth a national holiday. Her mission has made it to the pages of The New York Times and Southern Living. 

Lee also works to bridge health disparities. She has served as a health ally for Tarrant County, Fort Worth and The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC). This spring, she worked with HSC experts to encourage people in hard-to-reach communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 


Juneteenth 2021

Annual Juneteenth Fort Worth Celebration 

June 19, 2021 

10 a.m. to 2 a.m. 

Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, Lenora Rolla Heritage Center Museum, 1020 East Humbolt St., Fort Worth 76104  

For more information and tickets: Call (682) 207-4665 or visit www.juneteenthftw.com. 

Opal’s Walk for Juneteenth 

Annual 2.5-mile walk to recognize the time it took for Texas’ enslaved people to learn of their freedom.  

Starting at 11 a.m. at 1050 Evans Ave. in Fort Worth. For registration information: https://raceroster.com/events/2021/47747/opals-walk-for-juneteenth. 

 


Want to learn more about Juneteenth?

There are numerous resources available online: 

Juneteenth: Fact Sheet, Congressional Research Service, Molly Higgins Reference and Digital Services Librarian, June 9, 2017. 

Available through the UNT Digital Library. 

Ms. Opal Lee. Grandmother of Juneteenth,” Social Impact Leader. 

Juneteenth and General Order NO. 3, Galveston Historical Foundation. 

Granger, Gordon (1822-1876). Texas State Historical Association. 

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