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Opal Lee to make appearance at 2024 Tri-County Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant in Temple

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jun 19, 2024

TEMPLE, Texas (KXXV) — "Her petitioning to get Juneteenth a federal holiday is one of the many things that she accomplished — she's written many books and she's done a lot of things to model what us a black woman can do," said Kyra Williams, a participant in the 2024 Miss Tri-County Juneteenth Pageant.

As Juneteenth is celebrated across the nation, many Central Texans the story of how it began in Texas.

Texas native Opal Lee is considered be one of the "Grandmothers of Juneteenth".

She walked from Fort Worth to Washington DC in 2016, and she advocated for Juneteenth to be recognized as a national holiday — it was signed into law as the newest federal holiday in 2021.

"As Miss Juneteenth, we are the political leaders who can lead our children and then their children into the next day," Williams said.

The seventh Tri-County Miss Juneteenth Pageant will take place on Friday at the Arts and Activity Center in Temple — Opal Lee will be the guest of honor.

Opal Lee

"I'm most excited to see her ways and what she does," said Wisdom Collins, 2024 Little Miss Tri-County Juneteenth participant.

As the girls practice their dance, they shared with 25 News what Juneteenth means to them.

"To finally be able to say, 'Yes, we can stand with other people that are not our skin tone, and we can kind of be seen as equal more now', " said Erinn Sewell, a 2024 Miss Tri-County Juneteenth Pageant participant.

"When our ancestors were freed," said another participant, Tatiana.

The pageant will feature 10 young women from surrounding counties, and give them a chance to win a scholarship ranging from $5 to $1,500 dollars — as part of their selection process, they have been helping our neighbors.

They say that through this, they're learning poise, elegance, and service.

"Not just Black people struggle, but people of color, White people, all people struggle and have hard days, and its nice to see someone smile," Williams said.

Anyone can participate — that's one of the meanings of freedom.

"We're a freedom pageant and we are all free now," said organizer Ramona Trejo-Clark.

Tickets are available for $10 in advance or $15 at the door — call 254-534-2225 for in-advance tickets.