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Federal judge halts publication of Malcolm X’s diary

Malcolm X

Malcolm X

Extension of restraining order prevents distribution

By Frederick H. Lowe
Special to the Trice Edney Newswire from TheNorthStarNews.com

U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain has extended a temporary restraining order, preventing Chicago-based publisher Third World Press from publishing, distributing and displaying “The Diary of Malcolm X,” which is coauthored by one of his six daughters.

Judge Swain extended the temporary restraining order on Nov. 22 until Jan. 31, 2014, when a hearing on a preliminary injunction concerning publication of the book will be held. If successful, that injunction would prevent publication of the book prior to the final determination of the merits of the legal case.

The original temporary restraining order in the case, X Legacy vs Third World Press Inc., was issued Nov. 8. According to federal court documents, X Legacy, also called Legacy X, was created by Malcolm X’s heirs to protect and enhance the value of the property held by his estate, including his diaries.

Although Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X’s daughters, is co-author of  “The Diary of Malcolm X,” the X Legacy was created to prevent any heir of Malcolm X from acting unilaterally, according to the lawsuit. Herb Boyd, a journalist, is the book’s co-author. Haki R. Madhubuti, founder of Third World Press, wrote the book’s foreword.

“The Diary of Malcolm X” includes details from Malcolm X journal of his trips to the Middle East and Africa and his 1964 pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest Muslim shrine. He traveled abroad after splitting with the Nation of Islam, which is based in Chicago. He later changed his name to El Haij Malik El Shabazz.

On Nov. 8, Legacy X charged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Third World Press illegally infringed on original works written by Malcolm X. The group also alleges in its lawsuit that some family members attempted unsuccessfully to settle the dispute with Third World Press before X Legacy filed the lawsuit.

“On October 26 and 29, 2013, Attallah Shabazz and Qubilah Shabazz (two of Malcolm X’s daughters)placed telephone calls to the defendant (Third World Press) to request that the defendant refrain from the publishing the unauthorized book because X Legacy had not given permission for it to do so,” the lawsuit alleged. “Between October 23 and November 4, X Legacy’s legal representatives made numerous attempts, by telephone and by email, to obtain a response from Third World Press. Although Third World Press promised that a response would be forthcoming, as of the date of this complaint (Nov. 8), none has been received.”

Third World Press had scheduled book-release parties November 15 and 16 in New York City before the temporary restraining order was issued. Malcolm X’s heirs argued successfully they would be harmed irreparably unless the order was issued. Third World Press also was raising funds over the Internet through crowd funding to publish the book.

In 2003, Malcolm X’s family placed his diaries, photographs, letters and other materials on long-term deposit with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library.

Howard Dodson, then the head of the Schomburg Center, told The NorthStar News & Analysis that the documents were on deposit for 75 years.

According to the lawsuit, “Third World Press infringed on X Legacy’s exclusive copyrights by copying, publishing, distributing and displaying copies of the diaries in the book without permission from X Legacy and disseminating it publicly.”

The lawsuit charges  Ilyasah Shabazz in 2011 had assigned all of her rights, title and interests in the estate of Malcolm X to X Legacy.

Legacy X intends to publish the diaries on or about the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X in February 2015. Gunmen assassinated him on Feb. 21, 1965.

 

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