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Archive for June 19th, 2023

Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Opal Lee – Grandmother of Juneteenth (Contest)
Monday, June 19th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…Mary Preston!

What is it with the media and ageism? I will turn 67 this year and I bristle when some commentator denigrates President Biden for being 80. Gray Panthers unite! I guess the media hasn’t heard 80 is the new 60. So to those who view seniors through a negative lens I’m using this Juneteenth to celebrate 95-year old Opal Lee, the Grandmother of Juneteenth.

On June 19, 1865, enslaved African-Americans in Galveston Texas learned they had been free since the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Born October 7, 1926 in Marshall, Texas, Opal fondly remembered the games and food of her community’s Juneteenth celebrations. She also remembered a June 19th in 1939 when a white mob burned her family’s home, forcing them to relocate to Forth Worth. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953 from Wiley College. She received her Master’s degree in counseling and guidance from North Texas State University in 1963. She retired in 1977 from her work as a home/school counselor.

With forty years of community activism under her belt, Opal made it her mission to have Juneteenth celebrated as a national holiday. In 2016, she started a walking campaign comprised of walks 2.5 miles long to represent the 2.5 years it took for enslaved African-Americans in Galveston Texas to finally learn they had been freed by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation Act. She accepted invitations to walk in cities all over the country. These walks ended in 2017 in Washington D.C. where she presented her petition of over one and one half million signatures. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee from the 18th district of Texas co-sponsored a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. President Biden signed that bill in 2021, making Juneteenth, June 19th the nation’s 12th federal holiday.

Honors and tributes poured and continue to pour in for the retired schoolteacher. Hers is the second portrait of an African American to hang in the Texas state house. Her alma mater University of North Texas bestowed an honorary doctorate upon her. This year, Philadelphia declared June 5th Opal Lee Day.

But not one to rest on her laurels, Opal’s walks continue because work still needs to be done. She told an NPR interviewer that Juneteenth is not just a Texas thing or an African American thing. It’s about freedom. “As long as there’s homelessness and joblessness and things some people get that others can’t, climate change that we are responsible for, as long as we don’t address these things, we aren’t free.” She is working on establishing the National Juneteenth Museum in Fort Worth. You can check out Opal’s continuing activities on her website:

So, the next time you hear someone make an ageist remark, think of Opal Lee and all the other remarkable seniors who don’t let age stop them from changing the world. For a chance at a $10 gift card leave a comment about Opal’s story or about a senior in your life whom you admire.

“The Spirit to Resist” by Michal Scott from
Hot and Sticky: A Passionate Ink Charity Anthology

A woman may be made a fool of if she hasn’t the spirit to resist, but what does she do if, for the first time in her life, being made into a fool is exactly what she wants?

Excerpt from “The Spirit to Resist”

He scooted closer so his lips brushed her ear. “I’ve got a viewing room booked at Mrs. Wanzer’s. You have heard of Mrs. Wanzer’s?”

His breathy syllables coiled in Florence’s ear with serpent-seducing slyness. A jolt of arousal skittered across Florence’s labia.

“Of course I have.” Florence firmed her lips. Who didn’t know about Mrs. Wanzer’s and what went on there? Or at least, imagined what went on there.

William huffed on his nails and polished them against the lapel of his jacket. “Bet there’s a lot of knowledge you could glean there.”

An arousing but annoying friction roiled Florence’s sex at the possibility. No one spoke of Mrs. Wanzer’s except behind hands covering salacious whispers. What she wouldn’t give to have firsthand experience about sex rather than book knowledge.

“Are you vanilla enough to take advantage of this once in a lifetime offer?”

A wet yes pooled between her legs. She scrutinized William. Was this really a chance to gain the firsthand knowledge she wanted? Or was this serpent, like the one in the Garden of Eden, using knowledge of her desire to his own end?

William shrugged. “But you’re heading back to Brooklyn tomorrow,” he said in a tone heavy with resignation. “Having to pack will, I’m sure, curtail any time you’ve got for real schooling.”

He stood then turned to leave. She grabbed his arm and forced him to face her.

“What time can we go?”

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