Noted African American historian Manning Marable died in New York on Friday, three days before his long-awaited book containing revelations about Malcolm X is to be published, his publicist confirmed. He was 60.
A prolific writer, Marable directed the Institute for the Research in African American Studies at Columbia University and for years wrote the column "Along the Color Line" in the black press.
"He had been hospitalized with pneumonia last month, and last summer had a double lung transplant meant to relieve him of sarcoidosis, a lung disease from which he had suffered for a quarter century," Larry Rohter wrote in the New York Times.
According to Viking Press, his publisher, Marable's "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention," is "filled with new information and shocking revelations that go beyond the 'Autobiography.' " It "unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America, from the rise of Marcus Garvey and the Ku Klux Klan to the struggles of the civil rights movement in the fifties and sixties.
"Reaching into Malcolm’s troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents’ activism through his own engagement with the Nation of Islam, charting his astronomical rise in the world of Black Nationalism and culminating in the never-before-told true story of his assassination. Marable has based his work on extensive interviews with Louis Farrakhan and other intimates, as well as previously unseen FBI files and archival information from the Nation of Islam’s own records."
Michael Eric Dyson, the author, professor and talk show host who with fellow scholars Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cornel West wrote blurbs praising the book, told Journal-isms by email, "Yes there are newsworthy revelations for sure!"
The book, the product of 10 years, is expected to touch upon a subject the news media have been loathe to investigate: the true identity of Malcolm X's killer.
Journal-isms wrote last year, "A handful of Malcolm X scholars say the 45-year-old mystery of who really pulled the trigger and killed the iconic black leader has been solved, and are wondering why the news media aren't giving it more attention.
"Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a historian who writes for the Woodson Review and other publications of the respected Association for the Study of African American Life and History, identified the trigger man on his blog . . . . as William Bradley, about 72 years old, and known today as Mustafa Shabazz" of Newark.
In 1993, historian and author David J. Garrow wrote an op-ed in the New York Times, "Does Anyone Care Who Killed Malcolm X?" [PDF]. Mike Wallace had explored the subject in 1982 on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes."
The 1965 assassination is not the only subject expected to produce revelations. In an interview in 2007 with Amy Goodman of Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now!," Marable disparaged the theme of "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," co-written with Alex Haley.
"The tendency from those especially close to those of orthodox Sunni Islam and the integrationist perspective of Alex Haley, who was the coauthor of The Autobiography of Malcolm X, is to frame Malcolm as a kind of evolving integrationist," Marable said. "Well, clearly, that’s just false. Malcolm was a committed internationalist at the end of his life, but he was also a black nationalist, in the sense that he fought for and died for the concept of self-determination for the people of African American descent in this continent and fought for the right of that population to determine for itself what it wished to become. But what I find in my own research is greater continuity than discontinuity.
". . . Haley had an entirely different agenda. He was a Republican. He despised Malcolm X’s black nationalist creed. But he was a journalist, and he understood the power of charisma."
"Along the Color Line" began in 1976. "You couldn't read a major black newspaper without seeing his column," Todd S. Burroughs, a black-press historian, told Journal-isms. It was published in newspapers and magazines in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, the Caribbean and India, according to the HistoryMakers.
Marable was M. Moran Weston and Black Alumni Council Professor of African American Studies and professor of history and public affairs at Columbia.
He wrote more than 200 articles in academic journals and edited volumes, and taught at Cornell, Fisk, Colgate and Ohio State universities and the University of Colorado at Boulder, most often founding or chairing the black studies program. In 1993, Marable became founding director of the Institute for the Research in African-American Studies at Columbia.
He was working on the Ford Foundation-supported "Amistad Project," a multimedia resource project at Columbia designed to enhance the teaching of African American history in public schools, according to his Columbia University biography.
The Marable family is planning to hold a public memorial service on May 27, the NAACP said in a tribute.