February 21, 1965, a man entered Manhattan’s Audubon Ballroom for a speech about unity within the black community. That dreary day in American history was the assassination of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, who would be taken from that ballroom with 21 gunshots to his chest, left shoulder, arms and legs.
The man many would come to know as Malcolm X is a myth to as many as he is a beloved legend.
And to date, his sole memory has been authorized and archived in Alex Haley’s award-winning autobiography of Minister Malcolm. Its pages have been rippled through the annals of time and inspired a most amazing film by Spike Lee.
There have not only been controversial tales (and conspiracy tales) of his assassination, but also of the death of his wife, the alleged plot of his daughter to murder Louis Farrakhan and most recently, the murder of his grandson in Mexico. Admirers, followers and historians alike have been angling for facts on Minister Malcolm since 1965.
In papers filed in Manhattan Federal Court, “X Legacy” (as the estate is dubbed) says a Chicago company called Third World Press is publishing “Diary of Malcolm X” and it wants a court order stopping it. Why? Ownership.
“X Legacy was created by the heirs of Malcolm X to protect and enhance the value of the property held by his estate,” the suit says, asserting that only X Legacy has rights to his diaries.
Third World Press likely got hold of the copies from the Schomburg Center, where they have been on loan since 2003, and it recently started a crowd-funding campaign through the website Indiegogo to publish and promote its collection, the filing says.
What’s private and what is privileged to the public? This is often a question flacks are faced with as well when working with the press. The dreaded misnomer “off the record” comes to mind, because nothing ever is off the record. Does that include personal life experience of a historical figure — and one of such prestige and cloaked anonymity — as Minister Malcolm?
Conspiracy theory here to belongs to me: In 2015, “our own black shining prince,” as Ossie Davis so eloquently put in Minister Malcolm’s eulogy, will be commemorated for his 50th anniversary of that aforementioned day of calamity and tragedy. Think about it: 50th anniversaries bring about quite the publicity and dare I say, profit. That’s another reason to fight in court, don’t you think?
Ask another guy who knows about conspiracies and off-the-record comments: JFK. Just sayin’.