Lost Malcolm X Speech Heard Again 50 Years Later

Guy Raz in npr.org:

XLast semester, Brown senior Malcolm Burnley took a narrative writing course. One of the assignments was to write a fictional story based on something true — and that true event had to be found inside the university archives. “So I went to the archives and started flipping through dusty compilations of student newspapers, and there was this old black-and-white photo of when Malcolm X came to speak,” Burnley says. “There was one short article that corresponded to it, and very little else.” Malcolm X came to speak at Brown University in Providence, R.I., on May 11, 1961. Burnley noticed that at the end of the article, there was a brief mention of another article — also from the Brown student newspaper — written by a senior named Katharine Pierce. Her article was the reason Malcolm X wanted to visit Brown. 0He tracked down Pierce's phone number and gave her a call. “I immediately started asking her what she remembered about provoking Malcolm X to come.” It had been 50 years since Malcolm X's speech at Brown, but Pierce slowly started to remember how it all happened. “I just felt that integration was a greater path,” Pierce says, “more reasonable and a greater path for success.” Today, Pierce lives about an hour north of New York City. In 1961, she believed the Nation of Islam's message of separation of the races was destructive, so she wrote a detailed critique. Somehow, it caught the attention of the Nation of Islam. Two weeks after the piece was published in the Brown Daily Herald, representatives called. “They said that Malcolm X wanted to come to Brown and defend his views, because Katharine's essay was so critical of the organization,” Burnley says.

…”There are 20 million so-called 'negroes' here in America. Twenty million ex-slaves. Twenty million second-class citizens. No matter what other classification you try to put on them, you can't deny that we are ex-slaves. You can not deny that we are second-class citizens. And the fact that we are second-class citizens means someone has done us an injustice and deprived us of that which is ours by right.”

More here. (Note: One post throughout February will be dedicated to Black History Month.)