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Opal Lee's family plans to break ground on National Juneteenth Museum in Fort Worth this fall

Dione Sims will serve as the founding executive director of the museum. The groundbreaking will happen in the fall of 2022 at East Rosedale and Evans Avenue.

FORT WORTH, Texas — She is affectionately known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth and at the age of 95, Opal Lee is not slowing down thanks to family.  

Dione Sims is usually busy juggling Opal's schedule.    

"I am the granddaughter of the grandmother of Juneteenth," said Sims. 

Sims' life is getting busier too. She will serve as the founding executive director of The National Juneteenth Museum.  

The groundbreaking will happen in the fall of 2022 at East Rosedale and Evans Avenue. Lee has owned this property since the 1990s.

"Folks have tried to buy it from her, and she's like, 'no, no,'" said Sims. 

Lee saw the plot of land she owns as an economic development opportunity one day. That day is now here, making it the home of one of the most celebrated events in history. 

"Ms. Opal keeps poking us in the back. She's like 'I want to see it before I have to go,'" said Sims. 

The financing for the museum involves a huge price tag with corporate and community donations.

"We're raising $70 million because the Juneteenth Museum is not only just a museum, but it also has economic redevelopment components to it that allows for the community to benefit," said Sims. 

Unlike the current Juneteenth Museum, the national museum will include retail space, all while celebrating the end of slavery.  When the Juneteenth National Museum opens in Fort Worth at Rosedale and Evans Avenue, Sims wants people to know it'll be more than just about the impact slavery had on African Americans.

"Whites, Blacks working together for the common good of emancipating the previously enslaved. You get to talk about the Southern Underground Railroad into Mexico, which is now getting light, and more information brought about because Mexico abolished slavery in 1824," said Sims. 

Sims also shared they will use June 19th as a symbolic number for everyone to build the museum. While there are corporate fundraiser campaigns for the museum, it will also involve private donations including ways for people to give personally and be part of building the National Juneteenth Museum. 

"They're going to be giving $6.19 to the National Juneteenth Museum so they can have a part to say, I helped build that," said Sims.

The National Juneteenth Museum is expected to break ground this fall. 

Watch WFAA's Juneteenth special "Grandmother of Juneteenth: A conversation with Opal Lee" on June 18 at 9 a.m. 

    

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