“Malcolm X. A Life of reinvention” is not only a book. It’s a journey, where many roads intersect. Two are more relevant than others. We have Malcolm’s life, of course – a life for the first time spurred of mystifications and apologetic accounts, rendered vivid in its strength and drama, unfolded in its human complexity. But I do not want to enter into this here (talented others have already done so – see for instance Amiri Baraka, here). Rather, I just want to indulge a moment on the second path, that of a scholar who spent 20 years of his life working on this astonishing book. While reading it I thought to contact this scholar. It would have been good, I thought, to tell him how much I was appreciating his work. Then I found out – lying on the sofa while googling with my phone – that he died just a few weeks after the book’s publication. One of the most touching pages of his work it’s secreted in the appendix, where the author thanks all the women and men whom helped him with his illness, his family, friends and wife. But, most importantly, where he thanks “the real Malcolm X, the man behind the myth, who courageously challenged and transformed himself, seeking to achieve a vision of a world without racism” (Marable, 2011, p.493).
From this point in the web, this unchecked and not-fully-expressed knot, I would like to thank Manning Marable, the man, the scholar. For the inspiration. The time. And his belief in research, which travels beyond a mere human death.
Marable, M. (2011). Malcolm X. A life of reinvention. London: Allen Lane.