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Juneteenth has been celebrated by Black people since June 19, 1865, the day a Union general showed up in Galveston, Texas and told everyone that the Civil War had ended and that the people who had been enslaved were free.This was two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation! As of 2021, more and more states across the country have been adding Juneteenth as official holiday. We’re long overdue, since it is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. 

Enter Opal Lee. For over a decade, this Fort Worth, Texas resident has been working to make Juneteenth a national holiday, just like the fourth of July or Memorial Day. Opal Lee wants every child to understand the joy of Juneteenth as a celebration of food, community, freedom, and joy. 

Adria Haley at HarperCollins Christian Publishing has acquired world rights to Opal Lee & What It Means to Be Free by Alice Faye Duncan (l.) (Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop), illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo. The picture book tells the true story of activist Opal Lee and her vision of Juneteenth as a holiday for everyone. Publication is planned for January 2022; Tricia Lawrence at Erin Murphy Literary represented the author, and the illustrator was unagented.

We’re so excited for this book, beautifully illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo, and know that it will help to make a beautiful celebration of Juneteenth an event for every neighborhood across America.

Congratulations, Alice Faye!

—Tricia