2020 will likely be remembered as the year of the Pandemic, but the year also marked a sea change in racial justice activism, as Black Lives Matter protests brought calls for police reform from the streets to city halls and state houses across the country – including Massachusetts.

In Georgia in February, an African American, Ahmaud Abery, was shot to death by a white man while jogging; In March, a 26-year-old Black woman, Breonna Taylor, was gunned down in her own home by police executing a warrant for someone else. These cases provoked angry local reactions, but It was not until the killing of an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis caught on video tape that a national wave of protests erupted. The images of Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee on George Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds reignited the Black Lives Matter Movement that had first emerged in 2013.

On Sunday May 31, thousands gathered in downtown Boston and Nubian Square Roxbury, and toward twilight the two protests converged on Beacon Hill.

That evening, small groups splintered from the overwhelmingly peaceful marches to confront police, smash windows and litter the streets with graffiti. Some -- including individuals the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office later found had nothing to do with the protests -- looted shops.

“It was a beautiful demonstration, we had six hours of peace and of course, a lot of people are going to dwell on the negativity that happened after, you know, supposedly it turned into a riot,” said Carrie Mays, a 19-year-old BLM activist from Dorchester. “But I just want to say that those were not the young people that organized that movement or that march that day.”

But violence in the streets was the main headline the next morning as merchants swept glass from the front of stores on Newbury Street and elsewhere.

Still, those incidents, did not derail the movement. A few days later, hundreds sat in the streets and blocked traffic on Blue Hill Avenue— for 8 and a half minutes. And then tens of thousands streamed through Franklin Park to protest police violence.

Ian and Carol Ann O’Connell, a white married couple from Jamaica Plain, said they came in spite of the pandemic and concerns about potential violence.

“I was fearful to come given the violence of the recent protests, but to me, I felt like that's how black people feel every day from our law enforcement and from society,” Carol Ann said. “So, I felt selfish to be afraid when that’s something they go through every day.”

The protest continued into the night with hundreds descending on Boston Police Headquarters, where some cops took a knee in solidarity

The social justice movement that accelerated during the spring and summer captured the sympathy and imagination of the country. Black Lives Matter signs sprouted in windows and front yards in cities and suburbs, from Lincoln Massachusetts to Lincoln Nebraska. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in July showed that 63% of Americans supported the BLM movement.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court released an unprecedented joint letter saying “As judges we must look afresh at what we are doing or failing to do to root out any conscious or unconscious bias in our courtrooms…. We need to reexamine why, too often, our criminal justice system fails to treat African-Americans the same as white Americans, and recommit ourselves to the systemic change needed to make equality under the law an enduring reality for all.”

The protests also brought new interest in old cases of black people killed by police. Locally, attention turned to two high profile cases: Eurie Stamps, killed in Framingham in 2011 when a SWAT team came to arrest his son and shot Stamps as he lay on the floor; and DJ Henry, a young Easton man shot by police in Pleasantville, N.Y, in 2010 as he was trying to leave a club where there had been a disturbance.

“D.J. Henry, that's definitely a case that we always discuss,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said at a civil rights task force meeting in October.

“Because the people have voiced their opinion about that officer involved shooting with D.J. Henry. So, we in law enforcement, we definitely have to continue to be better each and every day.”

But BLM activists were not pushing for a discussion about law enforcement practices. Many were calling for taxpayer money to be reallocated under the slogan “defund the police.” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh took $12 million from the police overtime budget and reallocated to homelessness service and the Boston City Council created a new office to investigate allegations of police misconduct.

Statewide, Massachusetts activists had to settle for a compromise embodied in a bill on Beacon Hill that would establish a system of police accountability and oversight.

In the fall support for the BLM Movement started to decline because of images of violent protests, opposition to defunding the police and against a furious backlash by conservatives, led by President Donald Trump who turned much of his re-election campaign into a call for law and order. Black Lives Matter signs were ripped from lawns in Arlington and other communities and sympathizers were cast in a bad light. A pro BLM social media posting by Democratic state representative, Tram Nguyen of Andover, triggered a furious reaction from conservative members of Vietnamese communities, who accused her of abetting communism and anarchy.

“They are attempting to brand me, among other things, as a traitor to the Vietnamese American community for standing up in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and as a dishonor to my parents, my family,” she told GBH News. “And the reality of it is that I'm none of these things.”

Social justice organizers pushed back, most notably in the runup to the November election, where many like Carrie Mays turned from summer street protests to signing up new voters in October.

“We registered over three hundred and twenty people to vote in Boston less than a span of a month,” she told GBH News.

And BLM organizers were rewarded on November 3 with the defeat of Trump.

University of Illinois historian Barbara Ransby the author of “Making All Black Lives Matter” says beyond the election the resurgent BLM Movement of 2020 will have a lasting impact:

“Movement and organizers have played a critical role in changing both the climate and the culture around critical issues, but also forcing politicians to address issues they wouldn't be addressing otherwise,” she said.

But Ransby and others say it will still require black Americans and what she describes as “white allies” to keep the fire under the feet of the nation to make those changes complete.