It’s not every day you meet a living Civil Rights legend. Hell, it’s not every year, decade or lifetime that you get to meet someone like Opal Lee — and in Japan, no less.

Last month, the 97-year-old Dr. Lee and her team made their way to Japan on a 10-day tour that included various talks, a fireside chat at the American Embassy and a Let’s Talk About It event put on by the Legacy Foundation Japan. That’s where I met her.

On May 3, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Joe Biden, the highest honor for a civilian in the United States, for her decades of activism. It was not the first time the Texan had met the president, however. In 2021, Biden at last signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. He was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, several key lawmakers and Lee, the “Grandmother of Juneteenth” herself.