Sekhar Ramakrishnan


Manning Marable, a Marxist scholar, who recently completed a new biography  of Malcolm X that is said to challenge popular images of Malcolm, died  yesterday, apparently from complications related to his longstanding  battle with sarcoidosis and perhaps with the lung transplant he got last year. As an aside, something for Amal and Karunakaran to think about as  they evolve guidelines for organ transplantation in Tamil Nadu – even though Marable lived for less than a year after receiving his double-lung transplant, the world is a much better place for his having had the few months to complete his book, which is likely to be very influential.


The New York  obituary (see link below) is a whitewash in suppressing Marable’s Marxism and left-wing past. I first encountered his name in the [New York-based] Guardian where he wrote regularly on issues related to the black community and other topics. He was subsequently hired by Columbia University to head its small African-American Studies program. I was happy that, during a period of high-profile hiring of prominent black intellectuals by big universities, my employer chose the most progressive person. I remember quite a few seminars and other programs he organized at Columbia. Judging from the story in today’s New York Times about his biography of Malcolm X, it seems he, unlike the more famous Gates and West, did good, useful research and not just gimmicks with DNA or contentless pontification. It is sad that he never received the credit that his scholarship deserved, no doubt having to do with his leftwing politics. It is likely that even Columbia didn’t support his program very much, after the initial seed money ran out.


On a personal note, I was always impressed by his unassuming manner and obvious scholarship, besides the progressive perspective.

social-critic.html with two obituaries,

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