“To bring all Americans together to celebrate our common bond of freedom through the recognition, observance, education and historic preservation of Juneteenth in America.”
About the NJOF
NJOF is a national foundation, including hundreds of local organizations, that have been instrumental in the passage of Juneteenth Independence Day legislation. The NJOF advances the right of Freedom through its initiatives including education, health, music, art, and technology, creating opportunities for a better life for all. By focusing on these key building blocks the NJOF movement creates long-lasting community change. The NJOF is a call to action for everyone to become a part of the change.
National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) has been promoting the national recognition of Juneteenth Independence Day for nearly 25 years. NJOF has been instrumental in the passage of bills in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia.
NJOF National Agenda
Mission: Educate and Celebrate Freedom
Objective: Acknowledgment as the Subject Matter Experts on Juneteenth
Goal: Legislative Recognition of Juneteenth as a National Day of Observance
Community Advocacy: Bridging the Digital Divide
Community Service: Inter-County Exchanges
Kansas City Juneteenth meets Opal Lee
Kansas City Juneteenth organizers were able to meet Ms. Opal Lee in Topeka, KS.
By Julia Carmel Published June 18, 2020 Updated June 21, 2020 New York Times
When Opal Lee was growing up in Texas, she would spend Juneteenth picnicking with her family, first in Marshall, where she was born, then in Sycamore Park in Fort Worth, near the home she moved into at age 10.
She and her family lived in a predominantly white neighborhood in Fort Worth. When Mrs. Lee was 12, a mob of 500 white supremacists set fire to her home and vandalized it. The structure was destroyed, and no arrests were made.
Experiencing that hate crime pushed Mrs. Lee into a life of teaching, activism and, eventually, campaigning. In 2016, at the age of 89, she decided to walk from her home in Fort Worth to Washington, D.C., in an effort to get Juneteenth named a national holiday. She traveled two and a half miles each day to symbolize the two and a half years that black Texans waited between when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, on Jan. 1, 1863, abolishing slavery, and the day that message arrived in Galveston, where black people were still enslaved, on June 19, 1865.
As Mrs. Lee approached 93 last year, Fort Worth celebrated Juneteenth with multiple days of festivities, including a parade, a walk/run 5K, a breakfast of prayer, art exhibits, a gospel festival and the Miss Juneteenth Pageant.
This year, as Black Lives Matter protests continue across the country, many companies have decided to make Juneteenth a day off for employees. New York and Virginia have announced that they plan to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for state employees, and Mrs. Lee’s vision is closer than ever to its realization.
On June 17, The New York Times spoke to Mrs. Lee about what makes this year different and what she hopes will come of this moment.
What is your first memory of celebrating Juneteenth?
It was in Marshall, Texas, where I was born. We’d go to the fairgrounds to celebrate. It was like going to Christmas or Thanksgiving, we had such a good time.
Some people still compare Independence Day to Juneteenth. How would you explain the type of freedom and community that comes from celebrating Juneteenth?
The difference between Juneteenth and the 4th of July? Woo, girl! The fact is none of us are free till we’re all free. Knowing that slaves didn’t get the word for two and a half years after the emancipation, can’t you imagine how those people felt? They’d been watching — that’s what they call Watch Night services — every New Year’s, thinking freedom was coming. And then to find out they were free, even two and a half years after everybody else.
So, the 4th of July? Slaves weren’t free. You know that, don’t you? And so we just celebrate the hell out of the 4th of July, so I suggest that if we’re going to do some celebrating of freedom, that we have our festival, our educational components, our music, from June the 19 — Juneteenth — to the 4th of July. Now that would be celebrating freedom.
For more information on NJOF, click here to go to the NJOF website.
Kansas City Juneteenth is an official member of the NJOF.