For decades, a burning question loomed over a towering 20th century book The Autobiography of Malcolm X : what happened to the missing chapters that may have contained some of the most explosive thoughts of the African-American firebrand assassinated in 1965?
The answer came this week, when an unpublished manuscript of a chapter titled The Negro was sold by Guernsey’s auction house in New York for $7,000.
“We are like the Western deserts; tumbleweed, rolling and tumbling whichever way the white wind blows,” he writes. “And the white man is like the cactus, deeply rooted, with spines to keep us off.”
The buyer was The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, based in Harlem.
Schomburg Director Kevin Young confirmed that this was in fact an unpublished missing section of Malcom X’s autobiography, whose 241-page draft the Schomburg also acquired Thursday for an undisclosed figure.
The manuscript of the autobiography was for years owned by Gregory Reed, a lawyer for Rosa Parks who purchased the collection from author Alex Haley’s estate.
The draft of the entire book is of immense value, beyond the historic, for the handwritten revisions and comments by Malcolm X and Haley, Mr. Young said.
Their dialogue, in writing, reflects the human rights activism of the man who indicted white America for what he saw as criminal behaviour against blacks; opponents, including the U.S. government, accused him of inciting racism and violence. He was assassinated in Harlem in 1965 by three members of the Nation of Islam, a radical religious movement, shortly after he had broken away from the group.
The scribbled notes in the manuscript not available until now “are a very direct narrative that he’s crafting,” says Mr. Young, citing the image of racist cross-burning that Malcolm X’s mother described to him as a child.