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Voices speaker reunites with childhood hero who fought for Juneteenth holiday

Jane Scholz | Published on 6/19/2021

Voices speaker reunites with heroine who fought for Juneteenth holiday
David ford
David Ford reunites with Fort Worth neighbor Opal Lee in Galveston earlier this summer.

By Jackie Ford

Dr. David Ford, Jr., my husband, reunited earlier this summer with his old friend and neighbor Opal Lee, who has since gone on to win national fame as a leader of the effort to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

David, who spoke to Voices a few months ago about the results of the 2020 election, grew up in a poor Fort Worth neighborhood.  He has since gone on to earn a PhD, teach and travel widely as a business consultant.

David’s family lived across the street from Opal Lee in their south Fort Worth community.  He was a latch key kid because his divorced mother worked two jobs.

As an only child and a part of the village, the neighbors, including Mrs. Lee, had to look after him.

She would give him pies she made. Because he was a good kid, she did not have to discipline him. She was a teacher that he looked up to.  David went off to school and professional jobs, so he lost contact with her for years.

A few weeks ago, David and I were in Galveston, where the first Juneteenth happened in 1865.  We went to the Juneteenth historical marker and discovered she was also there.

Since then, the Juneteenth national holiday was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden.  We didn’t think it was going to happen so soon after we saw her.

Now she is a legend!

Learn more about what Opal Lee did to push for national recognition of Juneteenth: