FORT WORTH, Texas — Members of Congress from across the country made their voices heard as to why they believe Opal Lee, the "Grandmother of Juneteenth," should receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
On Tuesday, Texas Congressman Marc Veasey and 33 other members of Congress sent a letter to the Nobel Prize Nomination Committee to nominate Lee, of Fort Worth, for the 2022 Nobel.
Lee, 95, is a native Texan who has worked for over 40 years to push leaders to commemorate Juneteenth as a national holiday.
Veasey called Lee a "civil rights icon" for the work she has done and focused on throughout her life.
"I have been proud to call Ms. Lee a friend and mentor for nearly my whole life and was honored to work alongside her to finally get Juneteenth made into a national holiday last year," Veasey said. "I cannot think of a better person who has constantly fought for justice, and that is why I am nominating her to receive this year's Nobel Peace Prize."
Five years ago, Lee walked from her home in Fort Worth to Washington D.C. to campaign for a federal Juneteenth holiday.
Then, in June 2021, Congress and President Joe Biden officially recognized Juneteenth as a federal holiday, marking the day that the end of slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation were officially recognized in Texas on June 19, 1865. Biden brought Lee to the White House to witness the signing of the bill.
"I've never lost hope," Lee said in a June 2020 interview with WFAA. "I think this is the time. I think our time has come."
The letter sent to the Nobel Prize Nomination Committee reads in part:
"Her tireless efforts over the decades and her work to advance understanding and respect between individuals of different backgrounds and socioeconomic levels along with her continuing mission to equality is why we members of Congress proudly nominate Ms. Opal Lee for the Nobel Peace Prize."
In July 2021, the State Senate honored Lee as she sat with her family on the Senate floor. Senate members commissioned a portrait of Lee, which will be displayed in the chamber.
"If people can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love," Lee said when she spoke to a crowd during her two-and-a-half-mile walk in June 2021.
To read the full text of the letter, click here.