Magazine article American Libraries

Malcolm X Papers Find a Home at NYPL. (News Fronts)

Magazine article American Libraries

Malcolm X Papers Find a Home at NYPL. (News Fronts)

Article excerpt

Private papers and personal effects covering two decades of the life of slain civil-rights leader Malcolm X were placed on long-term deposit January 7 at New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and will be available to researchers as early as May 19, 2004, which would have marked Malcolm X's 79th birthday.

Two of Malcolm X's daughters, llyasah and Malaak Shabazz, turned over to the library for a 75-year period two large crates of hundreds of pages of materials--including letters, speeches, journals, and photographs--that had been the subject of an ownership dispute. The collection features 67 handwritten radio addresses delivered to broadcast the message of Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam; many outlines and manuscripts of speeches given at rallies and other public appearances; and the manuscript outline of his 1964 speech "The Ballot or the Bullet," in which he encouraged the black community to flex its political muscle by voting. Among the most significant items are diaries in which Malcolm X documented his trips to Africa and the Middle East, made soon after he broke with the Nation of Islam in 1964.

"There seems to have been very strong support for this notion of having this material deposited at the Schomburg Center from a number of different sectors of the African-American community," Schomburg Center Director Howard Dodson told American Libraries. "We're pleased that the library has reached a state where people believe that we are the best repository for these kinds of materials."

The documents, which have yet to be assessed by scholars, were stored for years at the home of Malcolm's late wife, Betty Shabazz, in Mount Vernon, New York, and had been removed after her death in 1997. According to the January 8 New York Times, Malikah Shabazz, Malaak's twin sister, had placed the material in a Casselberry, Florida, storage locker in May 1999. …

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