Detroit Museum Sued for Damaging ‘Malcolm X’ Manuscript

The owner of 15 unpublished pages of the original manuscript for “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” have sued a Detroit museum for damaging the papers during the years they were displayed there.

The Keeper of the Word Foundation, a Michigan nonprofit that owns the pages of Alex Haley’s work, sued the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History last week in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Francois Nabwangu, the attorney for the foundation, said museum officials have refused to file an insurance claim for $168,000 worth of damage to the documents, which were appraised at $280,000 before going on display in large glass cases in the museum for its 1997 grand opening.

Today, the pages have yellowed, blemished by a white stripe from being held down by bands while on display until about 2002. The papers include Malcolm X’s 13-point plan _ never published _ for blacks to achieve true integration through economic, social and political empowerment.

“There is no rational explanation for what happened here,” Nabwangu told the Detroit Free Press for a story published Saturday.

A spokesman told the newspaper the museum had no comment on the matter.

Nabwangu said museum officials have offered to try having the papers restored, which could further damage them and shorten their lifespan.

Gregory Reed, a Detroit entertainment lawyer who created the Keeper of the Word Foundation, said he acquired the manuscript for $100,000 at an auction in 1992. He also purchased three chapters for $35,000, not realizing until five months later that they were to have been part of Haley’s book on the slain black activist.

Reed eventually gave the manuscript to the foundation, which loaned 15 pages of the unpublished chapters to the Detroit museum.