8 Decades After Opal Lee Was Forced From Family Home, She Breaks New Ground on Same Block


April 1, 2024

Her story is one of resilience and perseverance!

97-year-old community activist Opal Lee is on the verge of realizing her lifelong dream of returning to her family’s Texas home. As reported by NPR, Lee, whose family was driven out of their Fort Worth home by a racist mob when she was just 12 years old, participated in a wall-raising ceremony at the site of her new home, marking a significant milestone in her journey.

Because of Them We Can previously reported that she had received her land back. Now, with the support of Trinity Habitat for Humanity and HistoryMaker Homes, Lee is closer than ever to moving into her new home, built on the very same tree-lined corner lot where her family’s home once stood.


At the emotional ceremony held on March 21st, Lee, alongside friends, family, and community members, lifted the framework for the first wall into place, symbolizing the beginning of a new chapter in her life. The house is expected to be move-in ready by June 19th, a date of significance for Lee as it marks Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Reflecting on the significance of the moment, Lee expressed gratitude and emotion. “I’m not a person who sheds tears often, but I’ve got a few for this project,” she shared. “My God-fearing, praying parents worked extremely hard, and they bought another home. It didn’t stop them. They didn’t get angry and get frustrated; they simply knew that we had to have a place to stay and they got busy finding one for us.”

Despite the traumatic events of her childhood, Lee never gave up on her dream of reclaiming her family’s land. In recent years, she embarked on a mission to make that dream a reality, eventually connecting with Trinity Habitat for Humanity and HistoryMaker Homes to spearhead the construction of her new home.


During the ceremony, Nelson Mitchell, CEO of HistoryMaker Homes, commended Lee for her unwavering determination, stating, “You demonstrate to us what a difference one person can make.” Mitchell’s company is building the home at no cost to Lee, while the philanthropic arm of Texas Capital, a financial services company, is providing funding for the home’s furnishings.

Looking ahead to the future, Lee expressed eagerness and optimism about her upcoming move. “I just want people to understand that you don’t give up,” she emphasized. “If you have something in mind — and it might be buried so far down that you don’t remember it for years — but it was ours and I wanted it to be ours again.”

Cover photo: 8 Decades After Opal Lee Was Forced From Family Home by Racist Mob, She Breaks New Ground on Same Block / Credit: Amanda McCoy for AP


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