The Ancestors Bring Home Manning Marable, 60, Author-Scholar-Activist, Two Days Before He Was To Publish His Bio of Malcolm X

If you ever saw and heard him; you knew that you were in the presence of someone with a great mind. In fact, W.E.B. DuBois was his hero. What a loss.  This is a great loss for black intellectuals, for working families, for political activists, for the young.   From The Root:

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.

“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 Goldman, “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…”

On a local note, Manning Marable was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning his master’s degree in American history in 1972. He later received his Ph.D at the University of Maryland in 1976.

I saw Manning Marable twice; the first time in the Bay Area on the publication of his first book of political essays in 1980, From The Grassroots, and the second time at Columbia University while I was participating at a graduate conference in the late 1990s. On both occasions, I was impressed. I had a discomfort with and for the black separatist movement of the Sixties and Seventies, for its sexism and its rejection of America, although I came to understand why it occurred and why it was necessary. Where could I come in politically? Marable seemed to hold out a better idea, a black political party with left-of-center allies like the Democratic Socialists of America, and coalitions across classes and colors. He also showed me, through his writings, in what context issues and events could be critiqued and acted or responded upon.

I managed to halfway keep track of Marable’s career over the years and then at the second opportunity to hear him speak at Columbia, I was concerned. Marable did not appear as vigorous and robust at that time, even as I told myself that both of us had grown older. He just seemed weak, though his voice was just as masterful and persuasive, though quieter. I did not know that he was suffering from sarcoidosis until the first reports of his death surfaced this afternoon.

From the L.A. Times: “Marable’s other books include, “Beyond Black and White: Race in America’s Past, Present and Future” (1995), “The Crisis of Color and Democracy” (1995) and “The Great Wells of Democracy: The Meaning of Race in American Life” (2003).”

It could be that some of the recent Shabazz family infighting occurring over Malcolm X’s literary legacy and also that of his wife Betty may stem from what Manning Marable found in the last three chapters of The Autobiography of Malcolm X that were excised from Alex Haley’s final version. From what Marable found, the chapters present the late black separatist leader in a very different light. I look forward to reading this book.

Manning Marable is survived by his wife, Leith, three children and two stepchildren. The funeral will be private; a more public memorial service will occur in May.

~ by blksista on April 2, 2011.

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