Tag: Zaheer Ali

Missing Writings from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X”, Long a Mystery, are Sold to Schomburg Center in NY

Malcolm X in 1964. (Credit: Associated Press)

by Jennifer Schuessler via nytimes.com

For a quarter century, they have been the stuff of myth among scholars: three missing chapters from “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” reputedly cut from the manuscript after his assassination in 1965 because they were deemed too incendiary.

Their possible existence was first teased at in 1992, when a private collector at an estate sale scooped up material belonging to Alex Haley, Malcolm X’s collaborator on the book. Years later, one biographer was allowed a 15-minute look at some of the papers, but otherwise they have been mostly locked away, surrounded by a haze of cultivated mystery.

But now the unpublished material, or at least some of it, has suddenly emerged and was offered for sale Thursday at a Manhattan auction house, along with another artifact that scholars have never seen: the manuscript for the published book, which bears dense traces of Mr. Haley’s and Malcolm X’s complex negotiations over the finished text.

At the auction, an unpublished chapter called “The Negro” was picked up by the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for $7,000. There were no offers on the manuscript for the published version, which had an opening minimum bid of $40,000.

But after some hushed conversations in side rooms, it was announced that the Schomburg — located on Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem, and already home to a large collection of material that had been held by Malcolm X’s family — had acquired the manuscript for an undisclosed sum, along with nearly a dozen unpublished fragments that had also gone unsold.

“‘The Autobiography’ is one of the most important books of the 20th century,” Kevin Young, the director of the Schomburg, said after the auction. “To have the version with Malcolm X’s corrections, and to be able to see his thoughts taking shape, is incredibly powerful.”

The manuscripts were included in a sale of African-American historical artifacts by Guernsey’s auction house. The sale also included an item that had attracted considerable media interest in recent years: a Detroit house associated with Rosa Parks that had been bought by an artist, disassembled and shipped to Germany, then shipped back again for sale. (The house, which had a minimum price of $1 million, received no bids.)

But it was the appearance, with little advance fanfare, of the Malcolm X material that caused a stir among scholars, some of whom expressed alarm before the auction that manuscripts that had been locked away by one private collector might disappear into the hands of another.

The manuscript and unpublished pages were sold to settle debts as part of a bankruptcy case. (Credit: Jeenah Moon for The New York Times)

Komozi Woodard, a professor of history at Sarah Lawrence College who is writing a book about the final year of Malcolm X’s life, said he was “shocked” when he learned about the auction earlier this week. “If we’re trying to figure out where Malcolm would have taken us, some of those papers have clues to that puzzle,” he said.

Since Malcolm X’s assassination there have been battles over the meaning of his life, in particular its tumultuous last year, when he broke with the Nation of Islam, traveled to the Middle East and renounced his philosophy of racial separatism.

There have been equally fierce battles over his literary remains. Papers removed from his family’s home by one of his daughters and later seized by owners of a storage facility were nearly auctioned in 2002, before scholars and family members organized an effort to have the collection placed intact at the Schomburg Center.

Malcolm X Suggests Cure To Racism in Newly-Discovered Handwritten Letter

Recently discovered letter from Malcolm X (Photo via GARY ZIMET. MOMENTS IN TIME)

A recently-discovered letter reportedly handwritten by El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (aka Malcolm X) in 1964 describes racism at that time as an “incurable cancer” that was “plaguing” America.

Los Angeles historic manuscript and letter dealer, Moments in Time, retrieved the six-page letter, reportedly written by the civil rights activist. It went on sale Sunday for $1.25 million.

Gary Zimet, president and owner of Moments in Time, received the letter from a contact who discovered it in a storage locker in the Bronx, New York. Zimet has decided to keep the person’s name anonymous.

“It’s extraordinary,” he told The Huffington Post. “I haven’t sold it yet but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I do.”

The letter details a monumental period in the late activist’s life — his 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca, the year prior to his assassination in 1965 in New York City.  In the beginning of the letter, Malcolm X describes his pilgrimage as “the most important event in the life of all Muslims,” and goes on to explain why his experience was so enlightening.

Also in the letter, Malcolm X suggests a solution to solving race relations. The passage is particularly striking to read now, at a time when America is still grappling with racism. He writes:

 If white Americans could accept the religion of Islam, if they could accept the Oneness of God (Allah) they too could then sincerely accept the Oneness of Men, and cease to measure others always in terms of their ‘difference in color’. And with racism now plaguing in America like an incurable cancer all thinking Americans should be more respective to Islam as an already proven solution to the race problem.

The American Negro could never be blamed for his racial “animosities” because his are only reaction or defense mechanism which is subconscious intelligence has forced him to react against the conscious racism practiced (initiated against Negroes in America) by American Whites. But as America’s insane obsession with racism leads her up the suicidal path, nearer to the precipice that leads to the bottomless pits below, I do believe that Whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, through their own young, less hampered intellects will see the “Handwriting on the Wall” and turn for spiritual salvation to the religion of Islam, and force the older generation to turn with them.

In regards to the legitimacy of this letter, Zaheer Ali, an oral historian who served as the project manager and senior researcher of the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University, says it’s likely this letter was actually written by Malcolm X.

“Based on everything I’ve seen, handwriting and context, I can confidently say that yes, this letter is his letter,” he told the Huffington Post. ‘The content is consistent, this isn’t uncommon. He was very prolific.”

Ali explained that the pilgrimage to Mecca had a profound effect on Malcolm X and that he often sent letters about it as a way to “broadcast” his message.  However, Ali doesn’t believe this letter should be for sale. “I don’t think you can put a price tag on this,” he explained. “Even though this is his personal correspondence, his intention was that this was to be made available to the public.”

Regardless, Ali believes the letter’s message, addressing race and religion, is particularly timely today.   “However this letter surfaced, it surfaced at the right time.”

Read the full letter here.

article by Kimberley Richards via huffingtonpost.com

Tonight’s CNN Special “Witnessed: The Assassination of Malcolm X” Hopes to Answer What Really Happened in Audubon Ballroom

malcolmprayer

Almost 50 years ago, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, more popularly known as Malcolm X, who had risen to prominence as one of the most outspoken and public faces of the Nation of Islam, was gunned down inside the Audubon Ballroom in New York. And ever since his death Feb. 21, 1965, there has been speculation as to who had the civil rights leader murdered.

Some have argued that the government was complicit in his death; others have argued his public feud with NOI leader Elijah Muhammad may have led to his assassination. On Tuesday at 9 p.m., CNN premieres Witnessed: The Assassination of Malcolm X, a special report which asks some of those who were there when the shooting occurred—Earl Grant, former radio reporter Gene Simpson, Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz and Peter Bailey, an associate of Malcolm’s—to share their memories.

“We failed him, I tried to help him,” photographer and friend Grant cries, when describing the horrifying day inside the Audubon Ballroom, and “describes the chaotic moments after the shooting.” Grant takes viewers inside his private photo collection, sharing never-before-seen images of the civil rights icon.

Zaheer Ali, who served as project manager of the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University, leads an online experience at cnn.com that delves into the unanswered questions surrounding the assassination. Bailey describes Malcolm’s plan to expose injustices against black Americans before he was gunned down, and Simpson, who was in the front row of the Audubon Ballroom when Malcolm took the stage, discusses the first time he interviewed the civil rights leader.

article by Stephen A. Crockett Jr. via theroot.com