There are many traditions on New Year’s Eve. Some people eat grapes, black-eyed peas, and cabbage; some make resolutions, and then there are those who always make a change in the community.

Sylvia Rodriguez,

Hola Texas

I was fortunate enough to attend an event on New Year’s Day with the grandmother of Juneteenth and serve at her event alongside her.

Opal Lee is a humble woman who, by her perseverance, made Juneteenth a national holiday. She walked for years wanting to make a change because Juneteenth was not a national holiday. A hero who shed light on an over-looked holiday, she not only talked the talk, she literally walked the walk.

(Pun intended.)

On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the bill into law, making Juneteenth the 11th holiday recognized by the federal government. At a White House ceremony, Mr. Biden singled out Ms. Opal Lee, who walked from her home here in Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., at the age of eighty-nine, and called her “a grandmother of the movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.”

The law went into effect immediately, and the first federal Juneteenth holiday was celebrated the next day. Juneteenth is a day that is celebrated as a Freedom Day; the 13th amendment had been abolished that outlawed slavery; in those days’ news did not travel as fast as it does now, and the news down south did not reach plantations until June. Thus, Juneteenth was established, and to this day is celebrated.

Ms. Lee’s event served as a who’s who in Fort Worth, local politicians, church members, and like-minded individuals all came together to break bread.

This day symbolizes so much to me. What does New Year’s Day mean to you? For me, it means starting over, renewing your vows, and giving yourself a clean slate to start the new year fresh and anew. You have the entire world at your fingertips. You must thrive and strive.

I was fortunate enough, as I said to spend some time with Ms. Lee; I will let her words of wisdom in the video below warm your heart feed, your soul, and your belly because her New Year’s Day event is a tradition and I plan to be there next year I’ll save you a spot.

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