The recording was forgotten, and so, too, was the odd twist of history that brought together Malcolm X and a bespectacled Ivy Leaguer fated to become one of America’s top diplomats.
The audiotape of Malcolm X’s 1961 address in Providence might never have surfaced at all if 22-year-old Brown University student Malcolm Burnley hadn’t stumbled across a reference to it in an old student newspaper. He found the recording of the little-remembered visit gathering dust in the university archives.
“No one had listened to this in 50 years,’’ Burnley told The Associated Press. “There aren’t many recordings of him before 1962. And this is a unique speech — it’s not like others he had given before.’’
Burnley has had the tape digitized and plans to air excerpts next week at an event hosted by the Rhode Island Black Heritage Association.
Lehigh University professor Saladin Ambar, who is working on a book about Malcolm X’s 1964 visit to Oxford University, said any new recording of him is reason to celebrate.
“Malcolm’s best speeches, they’re just gone,’’ he said. “He’s not nearly as well-documented as he should be, when you consider his power as an orator.’’
Read the Complete Announcement