ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Historians, scholars, and descendants of people who were enslaved at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello were all present at the historic site on Saturday celebrating Juneteenth.

A public gathering was hosted on the property's west lawn. About 20 guests made appearances to discuss different topics and tell stories about their ancestors. Monticello's vice president, Gary Sandling, says those who spoke represent history in a variety of ways.  

"So, they represent in a variety of ways, people whose scholarship, whose advocacy, artistic expressions all draw very much on the African-American experience in the United States and who have been advocates in a variety of ways for elevating those voices," he said.

The audience was made up of registered visitors and a large group of descendants who were all given a shirt to distinguish them in the crowd. Many of them belong to the Getting Word Oral History Project, which began in 1993 to preserve the histories of African-American families at Jefferson’s estate.

Miya Bates, the project's former director, explained what it meant to be a part of this celebration.

"I am glad to be here. I think it is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate these families and to be a part of what's been a long time coming," she said. "You know, hundreds of years of slavery in this country we are now able to celebrate, kind of a moment of reflection and prepare."

Monticello’s goal for the event was to bring awareness to the ways in which descendant voices have become and continue to become important parts of the narrative and of the work that is being done at historic sites.