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Attacks on Dr. Manning Marable's 'Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention' are baseless and shameful

N.Y. | , Kristen Clarke New York | 5/25/2011, 4:50 p.m.

I am writing in response to Paul Grenada's recent article, "Malcolm X uproar stirs community." I found Grenada's observations to be especially vicious, unnecessary personal attacks levied upon the late Dr. Manning Marable.

While all editorial writers have license to be critical and offer rigorous views and perspectives, Grenada's attacks on Marable's work are not grounded in any specific observations made in the book itself. There are no references to particular parts of the book where Grenada believes that Marable fell short and there is little evidence that he, or many of the panelists at the recent Institute of the Black World 21st Cenury event that the article was about, actually read the book at all. Rather, it appears that Grenada and other critics are simply stooping to a new low by offering an empty attack on a close-to-600-page book they have not read.

When Amsterdam News readers do get a copy of the book and read it for themselves, they will see that Marable has presented a masterful, well-researched and thought-provoking biography of Malcolm X, one of the most complicated figures from the civil rights era. Malcolm X has long been placed on a pedestal within the Black community, particularly among those of the nationalist tradition-and rightly so, as the work he did to cultivate organizations and build movements devoted to improving conditions for Black people were unparalleled.

At the same time, we also see through this book that Malcolm X was not flawless and that he, like many, was imperfect-whether during his days abusing drugs and pimping women in his time as Detroit Red or during the latter part of his life, when he was alleged to have engaged in infidelity while spending countless days traveling around the country and the globe.

But none of these imperfections take away from the greatness of Malcolm X that is so carefully revealed in one of the most honest portraits that we have seen of him to date. Marable has done a wonderful job "rescuing the man from the myth" and helping us understand the many transformations and evolutions that Malcolm X experienced through his lifetime.

I hope that readers will discount the empty and baseless critiques of folks such as Paul Grenada and get a copy of the book for themselves. Only then can we engage in a real discussion about the significance of this book and the work that it does in adding new dimensions to our understanding of Malcolm X.