McDonald’s Employees Rally Around Juneteenth

June 22, 2021

In 2016, Opal Lee started walking.

The then-89-year old Texas resident set out to raise awareness around Juneteenth, the oldest-known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865. Ms. Opal started marching from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington, D.C. to petition for Juneteenth to become a national holiday. With some help from friends and supporters along the way, the journey came to a conclusion after five months -- but her voice had been heard.

Every year since, Ms. Opal has walked two and a half miles on Juneteenth to symbolize the two and a half years it took for the Emancipation Proclamation to reach Texas. Now 94 years old, Opal has no plans of stopping her movement, either figuratively or literally.

Last week, the McDonald’s African-American Council of Dallas hosted a webcast honoring the history of Juneteenth. The virtual program, which was attended by employees all across the system, celebrated this day of reflection and unity with music, poetry, and a guest speaker appearance by the grandmother of Juneteenth herself, Ms. Opal Lee. She spoke about the importance of celebrating that day, and why she has continued to campaign for it to become a national holiday.

The webcast was hosted on the Monday before Juneteenth. By Friday, Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday by the President of the United States.

When several Dallas-area Field employees registered to attend Ms. Opal’s Juneteenth walk, they had no idea that this year’s event would be so monumental. On the morning of June 19, alongside hundreds of supporters, and of course Opal Lee herself, the group marched two and a half miles through the streets of Fort Worth, Texas.

Jay Stegall, a McDonald’s Franchise Business Partner in the Dallas Field Office, understood what it meant for McDonald’s employees to be a part of this movement.

“It’s about understanding our employees and customers at a deeper level. Understanding how they feel makes us a stronger presence in the communities we serve, Jay said.

“It was an absolute honor and privilege to walk with my Family and my McFamily. Equally important, it was indeed a life-changing experience to walk with the infamous Ms. Opal Lee. The timing of it all was impeccable. From the nationwide webcast last week to the signing of the bill supporting Juneteenth, the icing on the cake was the two-and-a-half-mile walk with Opal Lee.”

At McDonald’s, we see the world through our core values. Fostering and feeding our communities is more than just words, it’s about the actions that support them. We’re proud to see our people standing for what they’re passionate about, and we’re celebrating alongside them on this historic day.

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