WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - It’s about 1,400 miles, but to a Texas woman, it’s just another step towards being of service. 89-year-old Opal Lee of Fort Worth, Texas, is walking from her hometown to Washington, D.C., to try and get Juneteenth declared a national holiday.
Lee flew to D.C. to take her case to the Congressional Black Caucus Thursday, where she presented it in a speech. Before her talk, she handed out cards at the Washington Convention Center to try and gather support for her cause.
"Well, if an old lady starts walking from Texas to Washington, D.C., somebody’s going to notice it," Lee said.
Lee will turn 90 next month. The civil rights activist said she has to take this walk slowly.
"My grand idea was to do five [miles] in the morning, and five in the evening, but the old body says you can do two and no more," she said.
Lee wants nothing more than to make Juneteenth, which commemorates the abolition of slavery, a national day of remembrance.
"Slaves were told two-and-a-half years after everybody else knew about it, that they were free,” she said. “Juneteenth is a unifier. Nobody on the Republican side is unhappy with it, nobody on the Democrat party is unhappy with it."
Lee has always stood up for what she believed in. She said she visited the White House when three of her sons were fighting in Vietnam with a message for then-president Lyndon Johnson. She didn’t get to see him, but she did get in. She’s lived a life of service ever since.
"Being on your feet and helping people and not thinking about yourself," is what she said keeps her young.
Lee hopes she gets a meeting on the books with President Barack Obama before he leaves office. She said she hopes that happens soon so she doesn’t have to walk so far. At the current rate she’s walking, she said she’ll be 92 by the time she gets to the White House.
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