23 December 2011

Historians, activists still defining the legacy of Malcolm X

Malcolm X with Shirley Graham Du Bois, by then 
W.E.B.’s widow, in Ghana in 1964 after
Malcolm’s Haj pilgrimage.
Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, one of The New York Times best books of 2011, ignited debate almost immediately upon publication.

Author Manning Marable, a Columbia University professor who died soon after the book’s publication, said his long-awaited work was generated, in part, because of inconsistencies and other problems he had with The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965), which was written with the assistance of Alex Haley. Malcolm’s early-life criminal past as “Detroit Red” was exaggerated to establish his street credibility and to create a more compelling life story, according to Marable.

On Dec. 29, Third World Press is scheduled to publish By Any Means Necessary Malcolm X: Real, Not Invented, a collection of essays designed “to continue, and to expand, the debate arising from Manning Marable’s biography,” according to its co-editors.

An online resource patterned on A Life of Reinvention is available at The Malcolm X Project at Columbia University.

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