Images courtesy of Nathan D. Sanders
A collection of 16 rare postcards with handwritten messages from civil rights activist Malcolm X is being auctioned this week by the Nate D. Sanders Auction.
Written between 1957 and 1964 the postcards show another side of the former controversial figure in the Nation of Islam (NOI), each one chronicling X’s travels throughout the United States, West Africa and the Middle East.
On their own the postcards are still important but together they almost tell a story. In 1957 X was gradually gaining national prominence for his advocacy of Hinton Johnson, a black man who was badly beaten by police after Johnson attempted to intervene on behalf of another black man who was being beaten. Through the postcards you see how his voice was reaching different parts of America: California, Florida, New York City and Oklahoma.
“Greetings from Sunny California. The dead are really stirring in this section of the grave yard. Greetings to your Mother & Sister. Bro[ther] Malcolm X,” reads one postcard to Gloria Owens (the sister of NOI member Maceo X) that shows San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. “Greetings from Sunny Florida. Malcolm X,” reads another that shows an offensive caricature of a black boy who’s about to get spanked by his mom for not saying his prayers correctly (giving X’s “Greetings from Sunny Florida” remark a sardonic tone).
Fast forward to 1964 and X has left the NOI. While traveling across the world he’s also having to defend himself against physical assaults and possible assassination attempts by the NOI. Still, that never seemed to bring his spirits down.
“Greetings from beautiful Kuwait. Since I’ve seen what a mess can be made of things by narrow-minded people, I’m still traveling, trying to broaden my scope – Bro[ther] Malcolm X,” reads a postcard from Kuwait.
The following year (1965) in February he was killed by members of the NOI as he was preparing to give a speech to the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
This memorabilia is not only important for who it’s associated with, but because of the story each one tells. The minimum bid for each postcard is $2000, with bidding ending tomorrow. You can check out each postcard here.