Opal Lee among Texans nominated for 2022 Nobel Peace Prize
Opal Lee. Photo by Alejandra Martinez/KERA/Houston Public Media.

Several Texans have been nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, including Fort Worth activist Opal Lee. U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, and 32 other members of Congress signed a letter nominating the 95-year-old who’s known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.”

Through Lee’s efforts, Juneteenth — which is celebrated on June 19 — is now a national holiday after President Biden signed a bill into law last year. Lee was also present at the bill signing ceremony.

“Ms. Lee has worked tirelessly for several decades to bring recognition to the date the last recognized enslaved people in Texas were freed, June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the [Emancipation] proclamation was signed,” the letter read.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, were among the 12 Texans who signed the nomination letter for Opal Lee. Both led the bipartisan effort in Congress to make Juneteenth a federal holiday as well as similar legislative initiatives in the U.S. House and Senate.

Also nominated was top vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez. Houston Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher nominated Hotez and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, who both co-direct the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development.

Fletcher, a Democrat, said in a press release that she nominated the pair because of their work to “develop and distribute a low-cost COVID-19 vaccine to people of the world without patent limitation.” Their CORBEVAX vaccine has been authorized in India.

Both Botazzi and Hotez expressed gratitude for the nomination. In a statement, Hotez said he was honored.

“Dr. Bottazzi and I have worked together for years, and our purpose has never changed – to bring attention to the neglected diseases of poverty and build a new generation of vaccine in the pursuit of global vaccine diplomacy,” he added.