Texas Wesleyan’s Goostree Symposium hosts Opal Lee



On Thursday, Oct. 28, Texas Wesleyan University hosted the Goostree Symposium’s speaker for 2021, Ms. Opal Lee, at the Martin Center Ballroom.

Lee is famous for having walked from her home, at the age of 90, in Fort Worth to the White House in Washington, D.C. to ask President Barack Obama to make Juneteenth a national holiday.

The grandmother of Juneteenth, black rights activist leader, board member of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, will soon earn yet another achievement with the installment of the National Juneteenth Museum in her hometown of Fort Worth. However, Ms. Opal Lee said her biggest achievement was having 4 beautiful children.

In June of 2021, Lee stood alongside President Joe Biden as he signed the law, and was given the pen he used to sign it with. “Have you ever heard of the Holy Grail?” she said. “I was just delighted. I was humble. But I don’t really know how to express it, I was just really awed.”



Ms. Opal Lee’s book about Juneteenth is an iteration of the original story for children to understand the story of slavery and freedom in America, especially in Texas.



At the end of her speech and question-answer conversation with Dr. Stacia Campbell, Lee was awarded with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. ‘Dr. Lee’ was shocked.

“Oh wow! I don’t know what to say! And I know you don’t want me dancing up here,” she joked. “But let me tell you, I came to see President Jimmy Carter and tell him about Juneteenth!”

Julian Schlesinger, field representative for Congressman Marc Veasey, said the event was wonderful, and it was the first time he had ever heard her life story in real life.

“I do think a lot of people need to know who Ms. Opal Lee is and what she is standing for and what she has done over the past several decades. She has done a lot, I’m just ready to see where all of this will go in the future,” he said.

Prior to the event, political science sophomore Bailey O’Donnell was requested to give the invocation of the event, and took the opportunity to learn more about Ms. Goostree, namesake of the Goosetree Symposium, and Ms. Opal Lee.

“Honestly, it surprised me. I didn’t realize it wasn’t a national holiday. And I didn’t realize it was just a Texas thing. So I learned a lot through this as well, just about the holiday and I’m honestly expecting to learn more,” O’Donnell said.


Attendees of the event make an early appearance for Ms. Opal Lee’s book signing, where her granddaughter Dione Sims, sold pre-signed books.