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Opal Lee Biography

Opal Lee is an American retired teacher, counselor, and activist in the movement to make Juneteenth a federally-recognized holiday. She is often described as the “grandmother of Juneteenth”. Lee was named the 2021 “Texan of the Year” by The Dallas Morning News for her activism on behalf of Black Texans. She was also included in the 2021 book Unsung Heroes for operating a food bank, farm, and community garden throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opal Lee Age

Lee was born on October 7, 1926, in Marshall, Texas, U.S. She is 97 years old as of 2023. She celebrates her birthday every 7 of October every year.

Opal Lee Height and Weight

Lee stands at an average height. Her height and weight will soon be updated. Her other body measurements are also not available. The information will soon be updated.

Opal Lee Parents, and Siblings

Lee was born in Marshall, Texas. She was the oldest of three children of Mattie (Broadous) and Otis Flake. Her paternal great-grandmother was born into slavery in Louisiana. When she was 10 years old, she and her family moved to Fort Worth, Texas. The Flakes later moved to the 7th Ward of Fort Worth, also known as Terrell Heights.

Opal Lee Husband and Children

Opal was a married woman. She married and the couple had four children; they divorced after five years. She has not shared any information about her children’s names.

Opal Lee Education

In 1952, Lee graduated from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, receiving her Bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Opal Lee attended I.M. Terrell High School, Fort Worth’s first black high school, graduating in 1943 at the age of 16. Lee later attended North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) where she earned her master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance. After receiving her master’s degree, Lee returned to Fort Worth, where she was an educator for the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) for fifteen years and a home school counselor for nine years before retiring in 1977.

Opal Lee Career

She taught at Amanda McCoy Elementary School for 15 years, working nights at Convair to support her children. In 1967 she married Dale Lee when she was a teacher at McCoy Elementary School and he was the principal at Morningside Elementary. Lee later attended North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) where she earned her master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance. After receiving her master’s degree, Lee returned to Fort Worth, where she was an educator for the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) for fifteen years and a home school counselor for nine years before retiring in 1977.

She was also a member of the Fort Worth-Tarrant County Community Action Agency (CAA) Board, Evans Avenue Business Association Board, Tarrant County Habitat for Humanity Board, and Citizens Concerned with Human Dignity. She currently serves on the Unity Unlimited, Inc. Board. Opal Lee is a member of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority. On May 14, 2023, Lee received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of North Texas.

Following her retirement from teaching in 1976, Lee became involved in Fort Worth community causes. Lee helped found the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, alongside civil rights activist Lenora Rolla. She helped organize Fort Worth’s annual Juneteenth celebration. Lee helped campaign for Ann Richards, Texas Gubernatorial candidate, and Presidential candidate Barack Obama.

During the 1980s, Lee originated a tradition of bringing Fort Worth city leaders on an annual bus tour through economically depressed areas of Fort Worth, pointing out landmarks important to Fort Worth’s minority communities. Her nonprofit organization, Unity Unlimited Inc., has been in operation since 1994 and was officially incorporated in 2000.

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