Manning Marable
Marable in 2007
William Manning Marable

(1950-05-13)May 13, 1950
DiedApril 1, 2011(2011-04-01) (aged 60)
Alma mater
SpouseHazel Ann Marable
(m. 1996)

William Manning Marable (May 13, 1950 – April 1, 2011)[1] was an American professor of public affairs, history and African-American Studies at Columbia University.[1] Marable founded and directed the Institute for Research in African-American Studies.[2] He wrote several texts and was active in numerous progressive political causes.

At the time of his death, he had completed a biography of human rights activist Malcolm X, titled Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (2011).[3] Marable was posthumously awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for History for this work.[4]

Life and career

Marable was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. His parents were both graduates of Central State, an historically black university in nearby Wilberforce. His mother was an ordained minister and held a Ph.D.[5] In April 1968, at the behest of his mother, 17-year-old Marable covered the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. for Dayton's black newspaper. He graduated from Jefferson Township High School shortly thereafter.[6]

Marable received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Earlham College (1971) and went on to earn his master's degree (1972) and Ph.D. (1976) in history, at the University of Wisconsin, and University of Maryland. Marable served on the faculty of Smith College, Tuskegee Institute, University of San Francisco, Cornell University, Fisk University, served as the founding director of the Africana and Hispanic Studies Program at Colgate University, Purdue University, Ohio State University, and University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was chairman of the Department of Black Studies. He was recruited in 1993 by Columbia University professor Eric Foner to be the founding director of Columbia's Institute for Research in African-American Studies,[7] and was later appointed as the M. Moran Weston and Black Alumni Council Professor of African-American Studies and professor of history and public affairs.[1][8]

"One thing I remember... how vigorously he stressed the fact that he saw himself as both a scholar, and an activist. For him, the two vocations were inseparable... ...when he became the founding director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) a few years earlier, he'd envisioned it as fundamentally a community resource. And by 'community,' he pointed out, 'I don't mean just Columbia, or even Morningside Heights.' He gestured toward the window of his 6th floor office, which afforded views to the north and the east. 'We're not in Morningside Heights! We're in Harlem!'"

John McMillan, former graduate assistant to Marable[9]

In 1979, Marable joined the New American Movement (NAM), an organization of veterans of the New Left who were trying to build a successor to Students for a Democratic Society. In 1982, NAM merged with Michael Harrington’s Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee to form the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and Marable was elected as one of the new organization’s vice chairs. He left the DSA in 1985 after Michael Harrington and his allies, following the lead of much of the mainstream union leadership, refused to back Jesse Jackson’s insurgent campaign in 1984.

Marable served as Chair of Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS).[10] Marable served on the Board of Directors for the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN), a non-profit coalition of public figures working to utilize hip-hop as an agent for social change.[11] Marable was also a member of the New York Legislature's Amistad Commission, created to review state curriculum regarding the slave trade.[12]

Personal life

Marable was married twice, first to his Earlham classmate, Hazel Ann Marable, and then from 1996 until his death, to Leith Mullings, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Marable was a critic of Afrocentrism. He wrote:[13]

Populist Afrocentrism was the perfect social theory for the upwardly mobile black petty bourgeoisie. It gave them a sense of ethnic superiority and cultural originality, without requiring the hard, critical study of historical realities. It provided a philosophical blueprint to avoid concrete struggle within the real world. ... It was, in short, only the latest theoretical construct of a politics of racial identity, a world-view designed to discuss the world but never really to change it.

It was reported in June 2004 by activist group Racism Watch that Marable had called for immediate action to be taken to end the U.S. military's use of Raphael Patai's book The Arab Mind, which Marable described as "a book full of racially charged stereotypes and generalizations."[14] In a 2008 column, Marable endorsed Senator Barack Obama's bid for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.[15]

External videos
video icon Tribute film shown at Marable's memorial ceremony

Marable, who was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, underwent a double lung transplant as treatment in mid-2010.[16] Marable died of complications from pneumonia on April 1, 2011, in New York City at the age of 60.[17]

Malcolm X biography

Main article: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

Marable's biography of Malcolm X concluded that Malcolm X exaggerated his early criminal career, and engaged in a homosexual relationship with a white businessman. He also concluded that some of the killers of Malcolm X are still alive and were never charged.[18][7]

Critics of the biography contend that the focus on Marable's discussion of Malcolm's potential same-sex relationships, about three sentences long in a 592-page book, overlooks more important political statements Marable makes about Malcolm's underlying lifelong commitment to revolutionary Pan Africanism.[19]

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention was nominated for the National Book Award,[20] and The New York Times ranked it among the 10 Best Books of 2011.[21] It was one of three nominees for the inaugural Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction (2012) presented by the American Library Association for the best adult non-fiction.[22] It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2012.[4]



  1. ^ a b c Grimes, William (April 1, 2011). "Manning Marable, Historian and Social Critic, Dies at 60". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  2. ^ "FOUNDING DIRECTOR | IRAAS Institute for Research in African-American Studies". Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  3. ^ Goodman, Amy (May 21, 2007). "Manning Marable on Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention". Democracy Now!. Retrieved April 2, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "The late Manning Marable wins history Pulitzer; no fiction prize given". The Washington Post. Associated Press. April 16, 2012. Retrieved April 16, 2012.[dead link]
  5. ^ Katz, Marc (May 8, 2011). "Marable part of Dayton's literary legacy". Dayton Daily News. p. D4.
  6. ^ "Manning Marable's Living Legacy". Columbia Magazine. Summer 2011. Retrieved April 3, 2017.
  7. ^ a b Hond, Paul (Summer 2011). "A Message for the World". Columbia Magazine. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  8. ^ "20th Thurgood Marshall Lecture by Dr. Manning Marable". African Studies Center. UCLA. April 16, 2009.
  9. ^ McMillan, John (April 4, 2011). "For Manning". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 7, 2021.
  10. ^ Good, Thomas (February 20, 2007). "MDS Conference Elects Manning Marable Chair of MDS, Inc". Next Left Notes.
  11. ^ Hip-Hop Summit Action Network Board of Directors. Archived September 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Bryant, Erica (December 29, 2008). "City schools want better curriculum on Africa". Democrat and Chronicle.
  13. ^ Manning Marable, Beyond Black and White: Transforming African American Politics, p. 192.
  14. ^ Glick, Ted. 2004 Racism Watch Calls for Action to End Use of Anti-Arab Books by the U.S. Government. Archived August 30, 2010, at the Wayback Machine via PCDC (June 2, 2004).
  15. ^ Marable, Manning (March 6, 2008). "Story: Barack Obama's Problem - And Ours - Along the Color Line". Black Commentator.
  16. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (April 1, 2011). "Malcolm X biographer Manning Marable has died". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ Rohter, Larry (April 1, 2011). "Manning Marable, African-American Studies Scholar, Has Died at 60". The New York Times.
  18. ^ "Manning Marable's 'Reinvention' Of Malcolm X", All Things Considered, April 5, 2011.
  19. ^ Boyd, Herb; et al. (2012). By Any Means Necessary. Chicago: Third World Press. pp. 142–148. ISBN 9780883783368.
  20. ^ "2011 National Book Award Finalist, Nonfiction". National Book Foundation. Archived from the original on April 5, 2012. Retrieved November 14, 2011.
  21. ^ "10 Best Books of 2011". The New York Times. November 30, 2011.
  22. ^ Wyatt, Neal (May 21, 2012). "Wyatt's World: The Carnegie Medals Short List". Library Journal. Archived from the original on May 27, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2012.