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 (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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