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A recently-discovered letter reportedly handwritten by Malcolm X in 1964 describes racism at that time as an "incurable cancer" that was "plaguing" America.
Los Angeles historic manuscript and letter dealer, Moments in Time, retrieved the six-page letter, reportedly written by the civil rights activist. It went on sale Sunday for $1.25 million.
Gary Zimet, president and owner of Moments in Time, received the letter from a contact who discovered it in a storage locker in the Bronx, New York. Zimet has decided to keep the person's name anonymous.
"It's extraordinary," he told The Huffington Post. "I haven’t sold it yet but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I do."
In the beginning of the letter, Malcolm X describes his pilgrimage as "the most important event in the life of all Muslims," and goes on to explain why his experience was so enlightening.
Also in the letter, Malcolm X suggests a solution to solving race relations. The passage is particularly striking to read now, at a time when America is still grappling with racism. He writes:
If white Americans could accept the religion of Islam, if they could accept the Oneness of God (Allah) they too could then sincerely accept the Oneness of Men, and cease to measure others always in terms of their 'difference in color'. And with racism now plaguing in America like an incurable cancer all thinking Americans should be more respective to Islam as an already proven solution to the race problem.
The American Negro could never be blamed for his racial “animosities” because his are only reaction or defense mechanism which is subconscious intelligence has forced him to react against the conscious racism practiced (initiated against Negroes in America) by American Whites. But as America’s insane obsession with racism leads her up the suicidal path, nearer to the precipice that leads to the bottomless pits below, I do believe that Whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, through their own young, less hampered intellects will see the “Handwriting on the Wall” and turn for spiritual salvation to the religion of Islam, and force the older generation to turn with them.
In regards to the legitimacy of this letter, Zaheer Ali, an oral historian who served as the project manager and senior researcher of the Malcolm X Project at Columbia University, says it's likely this letter was actually written by Malcolm X.
"Based on everything I've seen, handwriting and context, I can confidently say that yes, this letter is his letter," he told the Huffington Post. 'The content is consistent, this isn't uncommon. He was very prolific."
Ali explained that the pilgrimage to Mecca had a profound effect on Malcolm X and that he often sent letters about it as a way to "broadcast" his message.
However, Ali doesn't believe this letter should be for sale. "I don’t think you can put a price tag on this," he explained. "Even though this is his personal correspondence, his intention was that this was to be made available to the public."
Regardless, Ali believes the letter's message, addressing race and religion, is particularly timely today.
"However this letter surfaced, it surfaced at the right time."
Read the full letter here.