The Times interviewed 10 Southern Californians about what the Fourth of July means to them this year, after the hell year that was 2020.

A taco truck owner feels free because he became a U.S. citizen. An activist dwells on who is not free — Black and brown Americans. A doctor mourns the lives lost to COVID-19. A single mom who was just laid off looks forward to a few days of relaxation.

All who were interviewed appreciate the freedom that they have but also understand it’s ever-tenuous as the pandemic continues.

Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin created portraits of these Californians using black-and-white large-format film, and staff writer Alejandra Reyes-Velarde and photo editor Keith Bedford contributed reporting. See Gustavo Arellano’s column here.

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