ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The son of Malcolm X's biographer is asking Syracuse University to hand over a letter in which the slain activist writes about his shifting views on race relations, claiming his family is the rightful owner.
Malcolm X wrote to Alex Haley, his collaborator for "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," from Saudi Arabia in April 1964, about ten months before he was gunned down at a New York City hotel ballroom. The publisher of the autobiography later gave the letter to Syracuse University as part of a larger cache of papers to be used by researchers.
But Haley's son, William Haley, said the publisher never had legal title to the letter and could not give it away. His lawyer said Tuesday he plans to make a legal demand this week for the letter, which he believes is worth at least $650,000.
"The history is important for us as a family, the legacy," William Haley said. Haley said he was acting on behalf of himself and his two sisters. Haley said it's possible the family would decide to sell the letter, but that would be a group decision.
Alex Haley died in 1992.
"So much of African-American history gets lost and is sometimes not in the place where we prefer it to be," Haley said.
Malcolm X's letter, written after a pilgrimage to Mecca, addresses the recent time he spent with Muslims "whose skin was the whitest of white."
"In fact, what I have seen and experienced on this pilgrimage has forced me to 're arrange' much of my thought patterns, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions," he wrote.
The letter was sent to publisher Grove Press for inclusion in the autobiography, which was first published in 1965. Grove included the letter in files it gave to Syracuse University in 1969.
Sean M. Quimby, senior director of the university's Special Collections Research Center, said it has documentation from Grove that shows Syracuse owns the transferred archive. He said the school's ownership had never been challenged before in 43 years and he has not seen any evidence that the letter was lent, instead of given, to Grove.
"Our library and our special collections are publicly available to anyone, and there is a greater good served," Quimby added.
Haley's attorney, Gregory J. Reed of Detroit, said Haley passed along the letter to Grove only so it could be included in the autobiography and that Grove never had legal title.
Haley said he is acting now because he only found out about details of the letter recently after talking to Reed, who collects Malcolm X material.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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