Boston City Council supports making Malcolm X’s birthday a municipal holiday

The civil rights icon lived in Roxbury as a young man. The resolution also seeks to restore the home where he lived.

Malcolm X, pictured speaking to reporters in 1963. AP, File

The Boston City Council unanimously supported a resolution Wednesday that would mark May 19, the birthday of civil rights leader Malcolm X, as a municipal holiday. 

The resolution would also designate a site on Malcolm X Boulevard in Roxbury for the creation of a statue honoring him as part of the city’s Black Heritage Trail. 

It also seeks to renovate the building where he lived for years. The building is located at 72 Dale St. in Roxbury, across from what is now known as Malcolm X Park. The Malcolm X-Ella Little Collins House is “completely dilapidated,” Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson said. 


Fernandes Anderson, who sponsored the resolution, spoke during Wednesday’s meeting about her personal admiration for Malcolm X and his significant role in Boston’s cultural history. 

“He was a man of great depth, who embodied values of selflessness, of love and patience and passion for humanity,” she said. “His values have had a profound impact on my life, and I look up to him as a symbol of hope for people who have faced discrimination and oppression.”

Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little in Nebraska, moved to Boston in the early 1940s as a teenager. He lived with his older sister Ella Collins, and the building at 72 Dale St. now bears both their names. 

Malcolm X frequented the area now known as Jazz Square near Massachusetts and Columbus avenues and was known to attend shows at the Hi Hat Lounge. He was arrested in 1946 on burglary charges and was imprisoned until 1952. 

The former home of civil rights leader Malcolm X, at 72 Dale St. in Roxbury. Keith Bedford / The Boston Globe

After his release, Malcolm X became a minister for the Nation of Islam and an outspoken civil rights leader. He parted ways with the Nation of Islam in 1964, made a pilgrimage to Mecca, and founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity, a secular political organization devoted to securing rights for Black people. 


At the age of 39, he was assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965, while speaking at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City.

“Recognizing Malcolm X’s birthday as a municipal holiday would not only honor his presence in Boston, but also pay tribute to his enduring legacy as a champion of civil rights and social justice,” Councilor Brian Worrell said during Wednesday’s meeting. “His teachings of empowerment, self-respect, and community uplifting continue to resonate, inspiring us to continue to confront systemic racism as we strive for a more equitable society.”


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