TEXARKANA, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – The community of Texarkana gathered Friday morning at the downtown post office for a caravan walk parade in support of Opals Walk to Dc.
According to community activist, Don Smith, the walk down state line started back in 2016 in support of making Juneteenth a national holiday.
“This would be accomplished by people understanding that Juneteenth is a holiday that needs to be nationwide and we need to be expressive of that,” said Smith.
June 19th, referred to as Juneteenth, is a holiday that celebrates the liberation of Texas slaves in 1865. Now, Texarkana hosts the “Opal Walk” an event named after 93-year-old community activist Opal Lee.
City activist led the crowd on a 2.5-mile walk ending at a local grocery store. The two and a half mile walk symbolizes the time it took for slaves in Texas to recognize their freedom.
“Juneteenth means freedom for our people. And it means that there was a struggle. And it shows us where we came from and where we’re going,” said Shaquita Burks, Opal Walk Participant.
Residents of Texarkana hoped this event would shed light on the culture and struggles Black people experience.
“I think it’s a great thing for our community to show support and love for what our ancestors have done,” said participant, Kenneth Reid.
Over 500,000 people have signed the petition in support of the 93-year-old. According to opalswalktodc.com, Opal’s goal is to show Congress and the President that she is not alone in her desire to see national recognition of a day to celebrate “Freedom for All”.
“We’re here on June 19 to make some history today and I’m really excited to see some actual change and we stand with Opal again what has happened is sort of bizmo but I’m happy we are going to get some great change out of this,” said participant, Phillip Barnes.
Smith said he hopes this event will open the door for new laws regarding more protection for black lives. Smith wants Juneteenth to be celebrated by all Americans and not just the Black community.
Community members were asked to stay in their car to ensure social distance practicing.