North Texas Organizations Preparing for Historic Juneteenth Celebrations

Juneteenth Indepdence Day, now a federal holiday, will be recognized annually on June 19

joe biden
NBC News

President Joe Biden on Thursday signed a law making Juneteenth the nation's 11th federal holiday. It is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.

Making Juneteenth a federal holiday had become the life work of Fort Worth's Opal Lee who worked for more than four decades to earn the designation.

Affectionately called "The Grandmother of Juneteenth," Lee said she soldiered on over the years for those who didn't get to see this day come to fruition.

From years of marching on the streets to being whisked away to Washington D.C. Thursday, Ms. Opal Lee, the 94-year-old Fort Worth legend who made it her mission to make Juneteenth a federal holiday is front and center as it is finally signed into law. She stood by President Biden and Vice President Harris who made her dream official. Evan...

"The Lord has been with me all this time to give me 94 years to get this done,” said Lee. “I'm so happy that I could do a Holy dance."

Lee was invited to the White House to take part in the signing ceremony. As Biden signed the bill making the holiday a law, Lee stood nearby next to Vice President Kamala Harris.

The House bill's sponsor, Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX 18th District), said it's "been a long journey," but "we're here."

The holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. is already celebrated as a state or ceremonial holiday in 47 states, and the District of Columbia.  

Among a number of celebrations across North Texas, Dallas will have its first march in celebration of Juneteenth, thanks to a group of local organizers.

Elite News and the Blair Foundation are hosting the celebration, march, and festival on Saturday. The 3.2 mile-long march will begin at 10 a.m. at William Blair Jr. Park and end at Dallas' Fair Park, where the festival will begin.

There will also be a car show and a parade.

We caught up with one of the moderators, J-Kruz, a Dallas radio and TV personality who will be on the main stage during the festival. He talked about the importance of simply celebrating history.

"If you're not Black, and you're thinking, 'Man, it's not for me, it's a Black person's celebration,' or something like that, I would say, 'Don't do that. Don't stop yourself from celebrating history,'” said J-Kruz. “It's a moment in history. You can go, and now it's being acknowledged, and a lot of people felt like it should have been acknowledged. Now here it is getting the recognition it deserves."

The Juneteenth holiday, which is officially called Juneteenth National Independence Day in the bill, has also been known as Emancipation Day and Black Independence Day.

Learn more about the holiday, it's history and celebrations, here.

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