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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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21 comments to “Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: Opal Lee – Grandmother of Juneteenth (Contest)”

  1. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · June 19th, 2023 at 7:38 am · Link

    Thanks again Delilah for giving me space to share about remarkable women like Opal.

  2. Sara D
    · June 19th, 2023 at 12:04 pm · Link

    I love Opal Lee’s drive and determination. I first heard about her and Juneteenth a couple of years ago through the BOLD group at work, and found her fascinating. I love her ideals. We could all learn a lot from her.

  3. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · June 19th, 2023 at 12:09 pm · Link

    So true, Sara. Age does not diminish passion. I enjoyed being able to hear her speak. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Colleen C.
    · June 19th, 2023 at 12:35 pm · Link

    My dad may be getting older, but he still does so much… sometimes I wish he would ask for help more often…

  5. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · June 19th, 2023 at 12:42 pm · Link

    Hi Colleen, my mom is 93 and walking that tightrope of wanting her to ask for help and offering help is precarious. Thanks for commenting.

  6. Mary Preston
    · June 19th, 2023 at 5:39 pm · Link

    A wonderful tribute. I suppose I am considered to be a senior by some, but I certainly don’t feel it. Life just becomes more interesting as you age.

  7. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · June 19th, 2023 at 5:59 pm · Link

    Absolutely, Mary. Thanks for commenting.

  8. BN
    · June 19th, 2023 at 6:29 pm · Link

    lovely post

  9. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · June 19th, 2023 at 7:47 pm · Link

    Glad you liked in, bn.

  10. Debra Guyette
    · June 20th, 2023 at 6:07 am · Link

    That was amazing. thanks so much for the lovely post.

  11. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · June 20th, 2023 at 7:33 am · Link

    You’re welcome, Debra.

  12. Steph
    · June 20th, 2023 at 11:39 am · Link

    Love opals story but also I want to give a shout out to my own momma who’s drive and hard work showed us girls we can do and be anything we want to be.

  13. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · June 20th, 2023 at 11:54 am · Link

    Thanks for that shout out, Steph. I think many of us were blessed to have mommas like that.

  14. flchen
    · June 20th, 2023 at 4:43 pm · Link

    Thank you, Anna–Opal is an inspiration, as are other not-so-spring chickens who keep on doing what needs to be done, and showing the rest of us how! And yes, my mama is also one of those go-getters. I’m so thankful for her and women like her who keep showing me how to be!

  15. Jennifer Beyer
    · June 20th, 2023 at 8:43 pm · Link

    Our society really does have weird ideas about people that are older. My grandmother was a force to be reckoned with.

  16. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · June 20th, 2023 at 10:04 pm · Link

    Congrats on having a wonderful role model in your mom, flchen.

  17. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · June 20th, 2023 at 10:06 pm · Link

    So true, Jennifer. Congrats on having a force to be reckoned with, Jennifer.

  18. miki
    · June 21st, 2023 at 3:24 am · Link

    Admirable, first time i hear about Opal but she sure deserve to be known better.
    So long health is there and the mind is sharp i don’t see why age should matter. I know some older people more active and better than some 30y

  19. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · June 21st, 2023 at 7:54 am · Link

    I’m with you, Miki. Thanks for commenting.

  20. Delilah
    · June 30th, 2023 at 8:35 am · Link

    Thanks so much to Anna/Michal for another wonderful post!

    The winner of the GC is…Mary Preston!

  21. Mary Preston
    · June 30th, 2023 at 10:48 pm · Link

    Thank you.

Comments are closed.