Manning Marable

On Saturday in the NYT, a notice (“Manning Marable, 60, Historian and Social Critic” by William Grimes) of the untimely death of

Manning Marable, a leading scholar of black history and a leftist critic of American social institutions and race relations, whose long-awaited biography of Malcolm X, more than a decade in the writing, is scheduled to be published on Monday [that is, yesterday]

A front-page story examines “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention”, a big book that, among other things, takes on “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” (1965, written with Alex Haley), which Marable argues was significantly shaped by Haley into a “fictive” life story.

Marable was an accomplished polemicist, advancing a “transformationist” political philosophy, according to which

he urged black Americans to transform existing social structures and bring about a more egalitarian society by making common cause with other minorities and change-minded groups like environmentalists.

(He truly believed that an affront to one was an affront to all — as a moral position, not just a piece of political strategy.)

I got to know him when he served as chair of the black studies department at Ohio State in the 1980s and we served on committees together. In 1993 he went to Columbia, where he served as professor of public affairs, political science, history, and African-American studies.

An admirable public figure and significant scholar, taken from us cruelly early.


2 Responses to “Manning Marable”

  1. Jenny Says:

    That was a lovely tribute.

  2. Robin Says:

    I did not know Manning Marable personally but felt connected to him because we’re both alums of Earlham College, a small Quaker school in eastern Indiana; and we both lived and worked in New York; and we are both black and have similar leftist views. I’m so sorry I’ll never get to meet him; I’ll be purchasing his new book, though. This is truly a terrible loss for the Earlham community, especially, and for those of us who’d like to see real change happen in this country.

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