In your words: Here’s what you said Juneteenth means to you

A man displays a shirt celebrating the freedom of enslaved Black people during a Juneteenth celebration on June 19, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general read orders in Galveston, Texas stating all enslaved people in Texas were free, according to federal law. (Michael B. Thomas, Getty Images)

Juneteenth is coming up, this weekend in fact -- and for those who might be unfamiliar, the holiday commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.

It was first celebrated in Texas, where on June 19, 1865, in the aftermath of the Civil War, slaves were declared free under the terms of the Emancipation Proclamation (even though then-President Abraham Lincoln issued the address in 1863).

We asked you, our readers and viewers, what Juneteenth means in your life.

And by the way, there’s still time to respond to the question. See below to weigh in, and we just might use your response in a similar news story next year:

Anyway, we thought we’d review some of the more thoughtful answers. Thank you to everyone who participated.

Here’s what some of you had to say:

  • “Juneteenth, for me, is the day I celebrate my people’s independence day and freedom -- not July 4, because July 4, my ancestors weren’t free.” -- Grace from Woodbridge, Virginia
  • “It’s the day the slaves were freed. ... It should be a holiday, just like July 4.” -- Cyndy from The Woodlands, Texas
  • “Freedom, love, peace and joy.” -- Trish from Jacksonville, Florida
  • “Being able to continue to be updated on our heritage. Learning the new and old of how ideas have changed.” -- Erika from Jacksonville, Florida
  • “I guess now since I have learned about it, it’s definitely a day to rejoice and thank God it finally came to happen. I wish I would have known about it growing up, but us as Blacks are still suffering. So, it’s hard to even believe (it) happened, and more so, even worked.” -- Eugena from Detroit, Michigan
  • “I’m from Denton, Texas. I was born there, and didn’t move to Michigan until I was 33 years old. When I asked people from Michigan, ‘Where (are) the Juneteenth parties?,’ they would look at me and say, ‘What’s that?’ ... I believe Mount Clemens, Michigan was the first city to start celebrating it here. I attended their event -- it was nice. This holiday means everything to me. It’s the most celebrated holiday in Texas. It’s the premier destination for cultural food, fun and fellowship for the entire family. (There are) events for the kids, talent shows, dance contests, Gospel choirs, live bands, food booths with soul food, BBQ contests and parties all week, all over the city. ... Many people just drive their cars around the celebration and people-watch. There are so many parties, you didn’t know which one to attend. I always participated in the big parade we had every year. ... It’s a time to release and rejoice your freedom, and recognize all who devoted so much time, blood, sweat (and) tears so we could live freely. Juneteenth means the world to me. It’s a chance to see all of your family and friends who moved to other states. Almost everyone comes home during that week to celebrate the many festivities. If y’all ever get a chance to attend this celebration in most cities and towns in Texas, you would have a blast. Thank y’all for asking and recognizing this celebration.” -- Robert in New Haven, Michigan
  • “It means all races united together as one. Yes, blacks (were) freed and no more hate. (It’s about) celebrating love and respect, and learning history, to motivate us to do better.” -- Kenesha from Detroit
  • “To me, Juneteenth is African Americans’ Fourth of July. It’s where the independence of a once-owned person can now be a man or woman. As a slave, you are merely someone’s tool or machine to do what they say when they say. I could only imagine what it was like to wake up and go anywhere you pleased without repercussions. Although, I know that portion did not happen for many years later, and now we having voting rights, we can drink from the same water fountain, we don’t have to sit on the back of the bus, enter a building from the back door, etc.” -- Montenia from Houston

Some answers were edited slightly for grammar, length or clarity.

We so appreciate that you took the time to share. 💛