A Never-Before-Seen Chapter From Malcolm X’s 'The Autobiography' Has Been Uncovered And Sold To The Blackest Bidder
The missing chapter is titled "The Negro," removed from the book following his assassination out of fear his words would heighten racial tension.
July 27, 2018 at 1:44 am
While many have turned the pages of Malcolm X’s autobiography, there has historically remained three unpublished chapters, which some theorize were stifled after his assassination because his words would make tensions explode. Now, one chapter has been revealed.
During a Manhattan auction on Thursday, July 26, the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture bought the cut chapter, titled “The Negro,” for $7,000. The center also purchased Malcolm X’s full manuscript, which was joined by several other unpublished pieces of writing, The New York Times reports.
“The Autobiography” is one of the most important books of the 20th century,” Schomburg director Keven Young said. “To have the version with Malcolm X’s corrections, and to be able to see his thoughts taking shape, is incredibly powerful.”
The manuscript, in its current condition, seems to be missing pages; some sheets were provided to the auction house as single pages, despite bearing what appear to be marks from staples.
“The Western World is sick,” the chapter begins. “The American society – with the song of Christianity providing the white man with the illusion that what he has done to the black man is ‘right’ – is as sick as Babylon. And the black man here in the wilderness, the so-called ‘Negro’ is sickest of them all.”
A page from an unpublished chapter of The Autobiography of Malcolm X called “The Negro.”
The chapter was collected by Detroit lawyer Gregory Reed, who has represented figures like Rosa Parks, during a sale of Alex Haley’s estate. Haley is famed for both helping Malcolm X craft his autobiography, and penning his historical tale by inviting readers into his family history through the novel turned movie Roots.
Though Haley and X worked together, their ideas often clashed, as evidenced by red markings on the original sheets. As Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Manning Marble said, Haley was “deeply hostile to Malcolm’s politics,” and his liberal Republican viewpoint often clashed with X’s criticisms of white America. In some sections of the manuscript, Haley tried urging X to restrain himself when criticizing white people, while also circling comments on foul-play in the white upper class in excited agreement.
Until the recent auction, Reed had only allowed a single writer to see the missing chapters and allotted him 15 minutes to do so. According to The New York Times, Reed had previously mentioned the removed chapters by name, claiming them to be “The Negro,” “20 Million Muslims” and “The End of Christianity,” but their existence has been speculated.
Among X’s writings, other artifacts from black history were sold by Guernsey’s auction house, including Rosa Parks’ Detroit home.
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