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Lost chapter of ‘Autobiography of Malcolm X’ found and auctioned

A book that has been responsible for the awakening of Black thought, pride and power for thousands apparently has an unpublished chapter. The Autobiography of Malcolm X, written by Alex Haley and Malcolm X it was published in 1965, he was assassinated in February of that same year.

It has now been announced that Guernsey’s, a Manhattan auction house, sold the unpublished chapter for a mere $7K to New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The chapter was titled “The Negro” and at the time it was considered too incendiary to publish. A shocking statement since the published book clearly showed that the systematic ill-treatment of the Black man in America, Malcolm X, and was by its very nature incendiary to Blacks. Many are wondering what brother Malcolm could have said to Haley.

According to the auction house, there are handwritten notations in the unpublished chapter by both Alex Haley and Malcolm X. There was a feeling of alarm by some scholars who were taken aback that such a powerful piece of Black history was placed up for auction with little notice given to the public. But it all turned to relief once it was discovered that the Schomberg in Harlem had the chapter and other documents related to Malcolm X as part of its archives. Kevin Young, the director of the Schomburg, stated to the New York Times, “The Autobiography is one of the most important books of the 20th century. To have the version with Malcolm X’s corrections, and to be able to see his thoughts taking shape, is incredibly powerful.”

This is the second time articles related to the life of Malcolm X were almost lost to a private collector. In 2002, a storage facility seized a unit over back storage fees. That unit belonged to one of Malcolm’s daughters and the family was able to raise enough money to place the collection at the Schomburg Center. A similar fate was also in store for documents belonging to Alex Haley. At the time of his death, his estate was bankrupt and in debt. These documents were sold to respected lawyer Gregory Reed, who has a long history of positive action in the Black community and represented the late Rosa Parks. The Schomburg Center has indicated that the unpublished chapter will be available for researchers to view.