, the 94-year-old known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth
” for her tireless campaign to make the anniversary
of the end of slavery
in the United States
a federal holiday
, had an “off the chain” reaction to the realization of her dream on Thursday.
“I guess I expected it to be like this, but to have it actually happen was off the chain,” the retired educator told CNN
’s Chris Cuomo
“I knew the Senate
had passed the bill, but I thought the House would take much longer, and to find out that both of them had and I’m on my way to Washington
and going to be in the White House
?” Lee added, referring to the moment she witnessed President Joe Biden
sign the bill into law
“I don’t know how to describe it; I’m truly humbled by it, and I’m so very, very grateful,” the activist said.
Cuomo questioned Lee, who embarked on marathon
hikes to raise awareness for the cause, about some of the obstacles she has encountered, but she deflected the focus to the campaign's involvement of others.
“It wasn’t just one little old lady in tennis
shoes who wanted Juneteenth to be a national holiday,” she said, referencing the late Dr. Ronald Myers’ work
with the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.
“I’ve followed in his footsteps,” she said, adding, “I’m so glad we’ve got it and so many people
have worked on it, not just me; people all over the country have contributed to making Juneteenth a national holiday.”
Click here to watch
"I just got to thinking... there must be something I could do to make people aware of Juneteenth and its significance," says Opal Lee, the "Grandmother of Juneteenth," of her iconic walks. "I've kept walking. I've kept talking... now, Juneteenth is a national holiday." pic.twitter.com/DUbnHP9os9 — Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) June 18, 2021