Manning Marable RIP


The highly anticipated: “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” is published today and available to purchase at all your fine and digital retailers. The 594-page biography –  allegedly full of new and shocking revelations and insights – was Columbia University professor Manning Marable’s focus for the past two decades. He considered it his life’s work, reevaluating the legacy of black nationalist leader Malcolm X. According to Viking Press, his publisher, Marable’s book “unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America”. The book challenges both popular and scholarly portrayals of Malcolm X, describing a man often conflicted by matters including theology and politics, and not the unwavering figure of moral certitude that has become an enduring symbol of African-American pride.

Over the course of a prolific 35- year academic career,  Marable was the Founding Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University and the author of 16 books including “Living Black History: How Reimagining the African-American Past Can Remake America’s Racial Future”. He is also one of the world’s leading Marxist historian. But it is this biography that is likely to be regarded as his magnum opus. He obtained about 6,000 pages of F.B.I. files on Malcolm X through the Freedom of Information Act, as well as records from the Central Intelligence Agency, State Department and New York district attorney’s office, and interviewed members of Malcolm X’s inner circle and security team, and witnesses to the Malcolm X murder. Mr. Marable had been looking forward to leading a vigorous public discussion of his ideas upon the book’s publication.

But on Friday, 3 days away from the publication date, Mr. Marable died in a hospital in New York as a result of medical problems he thought he had overcome. He had been hospitalized with pneumonia, and last summer had a double lung transplant to relieve him of sarcoidosis, a lung disease from which had suffered for 25 years. He was only 60.

Amy Goodman did a good interview with Manning Marable in 2007. You can read or listen to it here.

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We know our letters just fine, and we know our numbers to a certain point, but books were always the realm of four-eyed poindexters with bowler hats and cravats. That’s why it pleases us so that America’s proud illiterates are finally stepping up and pushing back against the crushing tide of education that threatens to swallow us all into its gaping maw of checked facts. Champions of the Ignorantiat will not like it here.
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