News: ‘Lost’ Chapter Of Malcom X Autobiography Now On Display At NY Public Library
Intrigue has surrounded Malcolm X’s autobiography ever since it was published after his assassination in 1965.
The original manuscripts were long rumored to include three unpublished chapters, cut from the final version because they were considered too controversial.
In 1992, the original manuscripts of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” surfaced at an auction held by the estate of author Alex Haley. Haley, the volume’s co-author, had stashed them away since Malcolm X’s death. Thanks to the sale, it seemed the public would finally get to see these “lost” works, according to a report in The Smithsonian.
That didn’t happen. Gregory Reed, a Detroit attorney who once represented singer Aretha Franklin and civil rights activist Rosa Parks, bought all the manuscripts for $100,000-plus and locked the papers away in his safe. They remained there, unseen by anyone except Reed (and Manning Marable, a scholar who was granted a 15-minute peek at some of the documents) until the lawyer filed for bankruptcy in 2017.
In July, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture bought the unpublished section of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” titled “The Negro,” at auction for $7,000, plus the full 241-page manuscript and notes for an undisclosed amount.
The manuscript, notes, and the unpublished chapter will be on public display from Oct. 23 through Nov. 10 at the center, which is a research division of the New York Public Library.
The Malcolm X-Haley collaboration was an unusual one, Smithsonian reported: Haley was “a pro-integrationist, liberal Republican whom biographer Manning Marable once described as ‘deeply hostile to Malcolm X’s politics.’”
“The Negro” chapter critiques the moral justifications of White supremacy, according to the New York Times. Editorial comments in the acquired materials “point to an ideological and narrative tension between Malcolm X and Haley; for instance, the manuscript allegedly features several instances of Haley asking the orator to pull back on his denouncements of White people.”
According to auctioneer Guernsey’s, Haley allowed the book’s editors to delete three chapters from the final text, breaking a promise to Malcolm X before his death that the pages would be included. Back-and-forth annotations seen on the manuscripts suggest Haley often attempted to “soften X’s words or his views.”
The Schomburg Center is already home to a substantial collection of Malcolm X’s writings, correspondence and personal papers.
The new materials are significant and can provide researchers with new insights into the writing process and thoughts of one of the most important and influential figures and books of the 20th Century, said Schomburg Center Director Kevin Young, in a prepared statement.
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X is a monumental work; to actually see how that book took shape through Malcolm X’s handwritten corrections and notes is very powerful,” Young said. “The omitted chapter, believed to be removed after Malcolm X’s death, places the work in a new context, and provides an understanding as to why it was excluded from the book in the first place. The possibilities for new revelations are nearly endless, and we are so proud that the Schomburg Center can bring this material to light for the first time.”
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture was founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017. It is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences.
Written by Dana Sanchez