Gov. John Carney officially made Juneteenth in Delaware a legal holiday with The “Grandmother of Juneteenth” Opal Lee In attendance. Presenting Lee a key to the city as part of the ceremony at Wilmington’s Congo Legacy Center leading up to Gov. John Carney’s signing of House Bill 119, which declares June 19th an official state holiday. In 2016, Lee decided she would walk two-and-a-half miles every day to represent that 2.5-year disparity that the enslaved didn’t know they were free for 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Lee said during an event at the Biden Institute on the University of Delaware campus Tuesday.
Lee was 89 years old when she started her mission to walk from her home in Fort Worth, Texas to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Her objective was simply to get June 19, recognized as a national holiday. Lee’s campaign to Washington earned her the nickname “Grandmother of Juneteenth” and eventually paid off on June 17th, 2020 when she stood alongside President Biden as he signed a bill making Juneteenth a national holiday. It’s also already been recognized as a paid holiday in the city where Purzycki declared as such on November 20, 2020. Prior to signing the legislation that instituted a statewide declaration. Lee said during her speech on Wednesday “We don’t want to stop now that Juneteenth is nationally holiday, we still have so much more to do.”