HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – For the first time ever, the city of Holyoke celebrated the life and work of Malcolm X, who would have turned 98 Friday.

Minister Tyrone Bowie Junior has tried a number of times to have the city of Holyoke celebrate Malcolm X on his birthday, saying it’s important to make sure that African American voices are heard in Holyoke.

Mayor Garcia read a proclamation declaring May 19th “Malcolm X Day in Holyoke”. Malcolm X was an American Muslim minister and human rights activist prominent during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, advocating for the rights and empowerment of the African-American and Muslim American communities.

He was assassinated in 1965 however, he remains a highly regarded figure within African-American and Muslim-American communities for his pursuit of racial justice. Friday, Holyoke residents came together to pay tribute to his memory.

May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965

Tyrone Bowie Jr. telling 22News, “To hear his words more like we should be allowed to be ourselves, that we shouldn’t have to fit a mold to be American, it really resonated with me.” Tyrone said he wants people take the time today to thank community leaders that are of black descent.

He hopes to put together more celebratory community events in the coming years to celebrate black cultures.