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Juneteenth advocate Opal Lee receives honorary doctorate from Texas Christian University

The Texas grandmother known for her push to make June 19 a federal holiday can now be referred to as Dr. Lee.
Credit: Texas Christian University

FORT WORTH, Texas — After years of walking for advocacy, Fort Worth's "Grandmother of Juneteenth" got to walk as a celebration.

Opal Lee was one of two people that were given an honorary doctorate by Texas Christian University. She and composer John R. Giordano received their degrees at the university's commencement on Saturday. 

Lee, 95, was given an honorary Doctor of Letters degree for her work as an activist and educator, according to TCU's Instagram post

Lee also shared a photo on her social media, thanking Texas Christian University and anyone that worked toward their dreams.

"I’m just sincerely happy and grateful for this Honorary Doctorate from TCU," she wrote. "It takes dedication, hard work and resilience to cause a change."

In 2016, she made it her goal to walk 1,400 miles from Fort Worth to Washington, D.C. to generate support to make Juneteenth a national holiday. She tried to walk 2.5 miles each day to represent the number of years that slaves in the southern U.S. had to wait to be freed after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Her campaign turned into a victory this year when President Biden signed the bill that made Juneteenth a federal holiday. Before he signed it, he formally welcomed and honored her at the White House.

"Over the course of decades, she's made it her mission to see that this day came," he said. "She's walked for miles and miles, literally and figuratively, to bring attention to Juneteenth, to make this day possible."

RELATED: Watch full KHOU 11 presentation of 'Juneteenth: 1865-2021'

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