Author’s Son Seeks Ownership of a Malcolm X Letter Now in the Syracuse University Archives

In April 1964 Malcolm X wrote a letter to Alex Haley from Saudi Arabia. In the letter, Malcolm, who had been on a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, wrote that “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 noted that he had spent time with Muslims “whose skin was the whitest of white.” Malcolm X was assassinated 10 months later in New York City.

Malcolm X was writing his autobiography with the assistance of Alex Haley. Haley sent the letter to Grove Press so it could be included in the manuscript. Grove Press later gave its backup files on the book project to Syracuse University. The letter and other files remain part of the Syracuse University archives and are available to the public.

But now William Haley, the son of Alex Haley who died in 1992, claims that the letter was never the property of Grove Press and should have been returned to Haley. He has threatened to take legal action to reclaim the letter from the university’s archives. William Haley estimates that the letter may have a value of $650,000 or more.

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