Manning Marable, an influential historian of the black experience in the United States and the author of a forthcoming biography that will redefine the legacy of Malcolm X., died Friday in New York. He was 60.
The Columbia professor spent 20 years working on a bombshell biography of Malcolm X but died Friday, just three days before its release. Scholars and those who have read his new book Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention say it presents the most definitive look yet at the leader’s legacy. One of the most controversial parts is how top law-enforcement authorities “stood back” rather than investigate death threats against the leader because they viewed Malcolm X as a dangerous extremist (they’d call him a terrorist nowadays in the U-S). The 594 page book also talks about how 2 men were wrongly convicted of his killing, while 4 others involved went free.
Marable obtained thousands of pages of FBI and CIA files while researching his magnum opus. Among other things, he argues that Malcolm X exaggerated or lied about his criminal career in an attempt to show that the Nation of Islam could redeem even the worst criminals. He also says Malcolm X had far more doubts about religion and politics than was portrayed in the popular autobiography written with Alex Haley.
It also includes details about his life including an early homosexual relationship.
The 60-year-old died of long-standing medical problems. Marable’s wife, Leith Mullings, says the cause of death is not known at this time but Mr. Marable, who lived in Manhattan, had entered the hospital with pneumonia in early March. In the acknowledgments of his last book Marable wrote:
“For a quarter-century I have had sarcoidosis, an illness that gradually destroyed my pulmonary functions,” he wrote in the volume’s acknowledgments. “In the last year in researching this book, I could not travel and I carried oxygen tanks in order to breathe. In July 2010, I received a double lung transplant, and following two months’ hospitalization, managed a full recovery.”
Click to download or buy the book at Amazon. It goes on sale Today.