In a July 11, 1964, letter, typed on letterhead from the University of Ghana, where she was teaching, Angelou told Malcolm X: "Malcolm, I'm sure that we have not had a leader like you since the dead days of Frederick Douglass."
Five years before the publication of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," Malcolm X foretold her literary success.
"Your analysis of our peoples (sic) tendency to talk over the head of the masses in a language that is too far above and beyond them is certainly true. You can communicate because you have plenty of (soul) and you always keep your feet firmly rooted on the ground," he told her in a Jan. 15, 1965, letter.
In terms of scholarly relevance, Angelou said she hoped some of her papers would show that Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were "were not demigods."
"Both those men were good men, strong and courageous, but they were men," she said. "I hope that in my papers people will find evidence that some of the people they would like to sit on pedestals were just like them, and so each of us has the possibility of being effective in changing our world, even if it's just the world around us."
The Schomburg archive also contains the papers of Malcolm X; Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche; singer Nat King Cole; "A Raisin in the Sun" playwright Lorraine Hansberry; and tennis great Arthur Ashe.
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