Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

Welcome to the official blog of the forthcoming biography Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by the late Dr. Manning Marable (May 13, 1950 - April 1, 2011).


Malcolmology 101, #18: NOI Answers Muslim Critics

By the time Malcolm X had been named national spokesman in 1961, the Nation of Islam had come under public scrutiny from groups ranging from conservative whites to integrationist blacks. However, following trips to the Middle East by Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad in 1959 as well as the organization’s increased public profile, the pressure for other Muslim organizations in the U.S. to condemn the NOI became even more acute. The NOI was predated by other predominantly African-American Muslim groups such as Noble Drew Ali’s Moorish Science

Malcolmology 101, #17: The Murder of Ronald Stokes

Having already battled against police brutality in the 1957 case of Johnson X Hinton and in his Queens home the following year, it was in late April 1962 that Malcolm X faced what many cite as the greatest tragedy of his tenure with the Nation of Islam. In what journalist Peter Goldman termed “a sort of volte-face version of the Johnson parable,” Los Angeles police hassled several Mosque 27 members who were unloading dry cleaning from their car. The officers were suspicious due to a chain of clothing store burglaries in

Malcolmology 101, #17: The Murder of Ronald Stokes

The following is a transcription of an interview of Malcolm X following the murder of Ronald Stokes.

Citation: Malcolm X, Interviewed by Dick Elman, WBAI Radio, May 1, 1962, Oral History Research Office, Columbia University, pp. 1-9.

ELMAN: Malcolm X, I wonder if you can tell me very briefly what took place in Los Angeles? You mentioned earlier on the evening that there was police brutality and there was atrocity committed. Would you explain what the incident was?

Malcolmology 101, #16: James Farmer Debate

Malcolm X continued his string of college debates with an appearance in 1961 at Cornell University against CORE executive director, James Farmer. Sponsored by the Cornell Committee Against Segregation, the speech was on a familiar theme: “Integration or Segregation.” Although the pitting of a prominent integrationist against Malcolm’s separatist attitude was a familiar one, the black nationalist leader was caught off-guard by Farmer and CORE’s stance, which was significantly more militant than the attitudes of the more conservative

Malcolmology 101, #15: Bayard Rustin Debate

Despite some trepidation from Elijah Muhammad, who viewed forays into the public intellectual sphere with skepticism, Malcolm X undertook a series of college debates in the early 1960s with significant figures in the Civil Rights Movement. One of these was a debate with a longtime civil rights activist Bayard Rustin at the prominent black college, Howard University, in Washington D.C. The events leading up to the debate, however, illustrated the divisive position that Malcolm and the NOI held within the black community. After

Malcolmology 101, #14: The NOI and George Lincoln Rockwell

Although George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party (ANP), may have seemed ideologically incongruous with the attitudes and theology of the Nation of Islam, both he and Elijah Muhammad found reasons in the early 1960s to coordinate and discuss strategies of racial separation. In one of the more bizarre pairings since Marcus Garvey sat down with KKK imperial wizard Edward Young Clarke in 1922, Rockwell and the NOI had a standing relationship for the better part of two years in which he and the ANP attended

Malcolmology 101, #13: Fidel Castro in Harlem

Malcolm’s exposure to post-colonial and third world revolutionaries continued the year after his trip to the Middle East, but this time it was a domestic affair. Fidel Castro, premier of the new Cuban regime, was attending the United Nations General Assembly in September 1960 when he and his entourage became incensed over the bill at New York’s Shelburne Hotel. Castro proposed that his delegation would sleep in Central Park: “We are mountain people. We are used to sleeping in the open air.” Malcolm quickly saw an opportunity as a

Malcolmology 101, #12: “The Hate That Hate Produced”

By 1959, the Nation of Islam had become recognizable to the general public, although it was viewed by many as a marginal “hate” group not unlike George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party. Among those interested in the burgeoning group was C. Eric Lincoln, a young doctoral student who began research on his work The Black Muslims in America, which would become a seminal text on the NOI. Louis Lomax, a black journalist, also pitched the idea of a documentary series on the Nation

Malcolmology 101, #11: Middle East Travels

One of the periods most responsible for Malcolm X’s early religious and political development is also one of the most obscured. Along with greater visibility amongst black and white Americans, the Nation of Islam had also intrigued emerging Muslim states in Africa and the Middle East. Following the NOI’s support for the first Afro-Asian Solidarity Conference, held in Cairo, Egypt’s president Gamal Abdel Nasser extended an invitation to Elijah Muhammad. Muhammad turned to his most trusted lieutenant, Malcolm X, to travel abroad first

Malcolmology 101, #10: Police Brutality in Queens

Malcolm had actively thrust himself into the Johnson X Hinton affair in 1957, gaining public prominence for the Nation of Islam. The following year, however, police violence came to him. While Malcolm spoke at Boston’s Mosque 11 on May 13, 1958, two New York police detectives, Joseph Kiernan and Michael Bonura, forced their way into the East Elmhurst home he and his wife shared with two other Muslim couples, including future NOI National Secretary John Ali. Allegedly searching for a mail fraud suspect, the officers were rebuffed

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