Opal Lee, Racist Mob, Home, fort worth texas

Woman Repurchases Texas Property Racist Mob Drove Family From Decades Ago

Opal Lee, 97, prepares to move back to the same property a mob of around 500 people drove her family from more than 80 years ago.

Opal Lee, a 97-year-old activist who was forced out of her Fort Worth, Texas, home by a racist mob when she was 12 years old, is preparing to move into her brand new home on the same property.

During a March 21 ceremony, Lee lifted up the first wall of the project, according to NBC News, which reported that the home is anticipated to be move-in ready by June 19, Juneteenth. Lee helped establish the day as a national holiday.

The day will also mark the 85th anniversary of the fateful event when an enraged mob of around 500 people amassed outside her parents’ home, incensed that a Black family had purchased the lot in the neighborhood. Lee and her siblings were sent to a friend’s house before her parents eventually abandoned the property themselves as windows were broken and furniture was dragged out of the home by the growing mob.

“Those people tore that place asunder,” Lee recalled.

“My God-fearing, praying parents,” who she said never spoke about the incident, “worked extremely hard, and they bought another home.” She added, “They didn’t get angry and get frustrated; they simply knew that we had to have a place to stay.”

Learning of Trinity Habitat for Humanity’s ownership of the property, Lee reached out to her longtime friend Gage Yager, the CEO of the organization. Unaware of his friend’s history with the property, Yager ensured it wasn’t promised elsewhere and offered the property to Lee for $10. At the ceremony, he was excited to see so many people gather in love on the same property a mob had once gathered in hate.

“You demonstrate to us what a difference one person can make,” Nelson Mitchell of HistoryMaker Homes, the company building her home pro bono, told Lee at the ceremony. Lee has become renowned as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” for her pivotal role in Juneteenth. The former teacher and counselor has dedicated decades to improving Fort Worth, including establishing a large community garden.

Lee is ready to move back to her childhood property with her parents on her mind. “I know my mom would be smiling down, and my dad. He’d think: ’Well, we finally got it done,’” she said.

Furnishing for the home will be funded by Texas Capital Financial Services.