Manning Marable: A Brother, a Mentor, a Great Mind

Michael Eric Dyson recalls the pioneering scholar as a 20th-century Frederick Douglass who nurtured and inspired talented young academics.

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And now, even in death, Marable teaches us still. His magnum opus, his summum bonum -- what all of his books on the urgent relevance of black politics, the pitfalls and seductions of capitalism, the ironic opportunities and vices of history, the romance and ruin of culture, and the triumphs and travails of race have built up to -- is his book on Malcolm X, due out on Monday, April 4. It is now, sadly, a posthumously published masterwork that rescues the legendary leader from the catacombs of history, separating him from the hagiography of adoring acolytes and prying him free from the hateful grip of dismissive critics.

In death, Marable gives us a life's work. He speaks to us, too, in another way: the disease from which he perished, sarcoidosis, affects black folk in America far more than it does whites or other groups. Right down to his dying breath, Marable bore witness to the possibilities and pains, the privileges and limitations, of the black identity that he so brilliantly and bravely embraced.

I will sorely miss Marable as my very dear friend whom I love -- my mentor, my colleague and big brother -- and all of us will miss one of the greatest minds and one of the most forceful spirits this land and world have ever known.

Michael Eric Dyson is University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University and the author of 17 books, including his latest, Can You Hear Me Now? The Inspiration, Wisdom and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson.

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