Black Studies Scholar Manning Marable Dead at 60

He died of complications of pneumonia, according to his widow.

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The widow of Manning Marable has told The Root that the 60-year-old scholar of black studies died this afternoon at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital of complications relating to pneumonia. According to Leith Mullings Marable, her husband had suffered from sarcoidosis for the past 25 years and had undergone a double-lung transplant in July 2010. 

Marable, a professor of history and political science at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in New York, was also the director of the university's Institute for Research in African American Studies. His long-awaited biography of Malcolm X -- Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention -- is scheduled for release on Monday, April 4. He had been working on it for 10 years, according to Mrs. Marable.

"I think he would want to be remembered for having contributed to the black freedom struggle," said Mrs. Marable. "He would want to be remembered for being both a scholar and an activist and as someone who saw the two as not being separated. He believed that both [callings] went together and enhanced each other."

A lifelong Marxist, Marable was a member of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and the Working Families Party. His latest book was a labor of love born from an enduring fascination with Malcolm X. In 2005 he told Democracy Now host Amy Goodman, "Malcolm X was the most remarkable historical figure produced by black America in the 20th century. That's a heavy statement, but I think that in his 39 short years of life, Malcolm came to symbolize black urban America -- its culture, its politics, its militancy, its outrage against structural racism -- and at the end of his life, a broad internationalist vision of emancipatory power ... "

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Marable graduated from Earlham College in 1971, received a master's degree in American history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Maryland. He taught at Cornell University, Fisk University, Colgate University, Ohio State University and the University of Colorado before landing at Columbia University, where he was the M. Moran Weston and Black Alumni Council Professor of African-American Studies and professor of history and public affairs. From 1993 to 2003, he was founding director of African-American studies at Columbia; in 2002 he began serving as director of the Center for Contemporary Black History there.

The family is planning to hold a public memorial service on May 27 and will have a private funeral within the next few days, Mrs. Marable said. Marable leaves behind three children and two stepchildren.

A previous version of this report gave an incorrect name for Marable's widow.

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Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root. Follow her on Twitter.

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