Just around the corner from Nubian Station, the giant, bright yellow letters spelling out “Black Lives Matter”on the asphalt of Washington Street have been repainted as the neighborhood gearing up for the newly-recognized state holiday, Juneteenth.

Juneteenth, or June 19th, has served as a freedom celebration in the Black community for over 150 years. The date marks the liberation of enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, who were informed of their freedom in 1865 — two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued orders to free people who were enslaved in Confederate states.

This year, with a new state holiday, some Boston activists said the events will be both a celebration and a recommitment to the cause of social justice.

“We still have work to do,” said Amanda Shea, Roxbury artist and educator. “[It’s] our time to really celebrate one another and celebrate who we are. And it's really unfortunate, because as much as I'm looking forward to the celebrations, I'm wary. We need police reform, and we are still in the middle of a pandemic.”

Liberation does not come without addressing police reform in the city, Shea said. She also noted that while Juneteenth is being recognized in the state, that there are still three states [Hawaii, North Dakota and South Dakota] that have no official recognition of the day, so it is not exactly a unified national celebration.

Toiell Washington, a co-founder of Black Boston Inc., is curious how Boston city leaders will partake in this year’s celebration as the city is facing a historic mayoral election year.

“With Juneteenth, I really would love just to see what people in positions of power have in place,” said Washington, a Dorchester native. “They need to actually start asking us what we want instead of trying to tell us what we need.”

The 23-year-old said that she and other organizers would appreciate it if city politicians would show up to Juneteenth events led by Black organizations, rather than trying to plan their own events for the day or attending events led by non-Black organizations.

Last summer, after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Washington and local organizer Hodan Hashi decided to launch a new organization to organize protests locally.

With just three days of planning and support from other organizations, Black Boston hosted one of the city's most significant protests on May 31st from Nubian Square to the State House. Their peaceful protest was marred by the violence that occurred later the same night. Clashes between police and protesters erupted. Smashed storefront windows and vandalism of public property kept the night fresh in Bostonians’ memories. The city stayed agitated for weeks.

But Washington believes the march and the protests that followed through the summer truly made an impact on the city.

“I would definitely say after the protests, and just kind of in the last year, that I can see more people standing in solidarity and thinking more critically,” she said.

And while protests may take a different form this year, the message of the Juneteenth celebrations remains the same.

“I'm sure there's organizations who want to do protests or things like that, but we just feel like we always have to show up for each other and always have to fight,” Washington said. “It's nice just to celebrate being Black and just enjoying it.”

On Saturday, Black Boston, in partnership with the local activist group For The People, plans to host a “community kickback” for its Juneteenth celebration. The all-day event is family-friendly and will include food, live performances and an open mic at Titus Sparrow Park.

Meanwhile, King Boston, the nonprofit responsible for the upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial set to be placed in Boston Common by 2022, is spearheading a coalition of nonprofits led by people of color to host “One Night in Boston,” an inaugural event to kick off Juneteenth weekend on Friday, June 18.

The event will feature live music performances and include a film premiere of “One Night in Boston,” a film that celebrates Juneteenth through the power of Black music, performed by local culture creators in an ode to Black Music Month.

With big buzz surrounding King Boston’s upcoming monument, Duncan Remage-Healey, the nonprofit’s director of advancement and external affairs, said the organization hopes to use its spotlight to amplify the stories of those who have been doing the work in the city for a long time — not take the focus away from the bigger picture.

“This is about meeting more of a moment into a movement, and making that movement more into an institution, and that's where we are,” Remage-Healey said. “We are wanting to be a convener, but we also recognize the strength of the collective community. And that's what I think Juneteenth is about.”

Lex Weaver is the editor-in-chief of The Scope: Boston, a digital magazine operated by Northeastern University’s School of Journalism and focused on telling stories of justice, hope and resilience in Greater Boston. She is also a Poynter-Koch Media and Journalism Fellow. Taylor Blackley is a reporter at The Scope: Boston and a Northeastern graduate student.