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Martin L. King & Malcolm X

Martin L. King and

Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture)

On this the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, we spend the hour with historian Manning Marable who has spent a decade working on a new biography of Malcolm X. He is one of the few historians to see the three missing chapters from "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" that he says paint a very different picture than the book with Alex Haley and Spike Lee's film. Marable has also had unprecedented access to Malcolm's family and documents that shed new light on the involvement of the New York Police, the FBI and possibly the CIA in Malcolm X's assassination. Manning today called on the federal government to release all remaining classified documents on Malcolm X. [includes rush transcript]

40 years ago today on February 21, 1965 Malcolm X was shot dead as he spoke at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. He had just taken the stage when shots rang out riddling his body with bullets. Malcolm X was 39 years old.

At his funeral, the actor and civil rights activist Ossie Davis hailed Malcolm as "our Black shining prince."

Today commemorations are scheduled across the country.

In New York, the Centre for Contemporary Black History and the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University are sponsoring "Malcolm X: Life After Death -- the Legacy Endures" an educational forum and radio broadcast. The program will be chaired by historian Manning Marable, founding director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies.

The historic Abyssinian Baptist Church is also hosting a national commemoration of Malcolm X with Percy Sutton, Sonia Sanchez, Haki Madhubuti, Dr. James Turner, Gil Noble, Rev. Herbert Daughtry and M-1 of Dead Prez.

Later this year, the Audubon Ballroom is scheduled to reopen as the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Education Centre on May 19 on what would have been Malcolm's 80th birthday.

Meanwhile Columbia University professor Manning Marable is working on a major new biography on Malcolm X. Marable has already spent 10 years researching the book which is tentatively titled "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention."

Today Professor Marable joins us in our Firehouse Studios to discuss the legacy of Malcolm X as well as some of his new findings.

Marable has said "Malcolm X was potentially a new type of world leader, personally drawn up from the 'wretched of the earth into a political stratosphere of international power. And telling that remarkable, true story is the purpose of my biography."

Marable's research has raised new questions about The Autobiography of Malcolm X which was written with Alex Haley. Marable has also examined un-redacted FBI files which provides new insight into the role of FBI and the New York Police Department in the assassination of Malcolm X

We will be joined by Professor Marable in a moment, but first we begin with the words of Malcolm X recorded a month before he was killed. In January 1965 he gave a speech entitled "Prospects for Freedom."

    * Malcolm X, speaking in January 1965 giving a speech entitled "Prospects for Freedom." Courtesy of the Pacifica Radio Archives.

    * Manning Marable, one of America's most influential and widely read scholars. He is Professor of History and African-American Studies at Columbia University, and founding Director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies. He has been working on a new biography of Malcolm X for more then ten years. It will be published by Viking in 2008.

RUSH TRANSCRIPT

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AMY GOODMAN: We will be joined by Professor Marable in just a moment, but first we begin with Malcolm X himself in words recorded just a months before he was assassinated. It was January 1965, he gave this speech entitled "Prospects for Freedom."

      MALCOLM X: When this country here was first being founded, there were 13 colonies. The whites were colonized. They were fed up with this taxation without representation. So some of them stood up and said, liberty or death. I went to a white school over here in Mason, Michigan. The white man made the mistake of letting me read his history books. He made the mistake of teaching me that Patrick Henry was a patriot and George Washington – wasn’t nothing non-violent about old Pat or George Washington. Liberty or death was what brought about the freedom of whites in this country from the English. They didn't care about the odds. Why, they faced the wrath of the entire British Empire. And in those days, they used to say that the British Empire was so vast and so powerful, the sun would never set on it. This is how big it was, yet these 13 little scrawny states, tired of taxation without representation, tired of being exploited and oppressed and degraded, told that big British Empire, liberty or death. And here you have 22 million Afro-Americans, black people today, catching more hell than Patrick Henry ever saw. And I'm here to tell you, in case you don't know it, that you got a new - you got a new generation of black people in this country, who don't care anything whatsoever about odds. They don't want to hear you old Uncle Tom handkerchief heads talking about the odds. No. This is a new generation. If they're going to draft these young black men and send them over to Korea or South Vietnam, to face 800 million Chinese. If you are not afraid of those odds, you shouldn't be afraid of these odds.

AMY GOODMAN: Malcolm X, a month before he was assassinated. It was January 1965 at a speech he gave in New York, sponsored by the Militant Labour Forum. This is Democracy Now! We're joined by Professor Manning Marable, one of America's most influential and widely read scholars, professor of history and African American Studies at Columbia University, founding director of the Institute for Research in African American studies, again working on a new biography of Malcolm X. Welcome to Democracy Now!

MANNING MARABLE: Thank you. It's always great to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: It is great to be with you. Why don't you summarize for us – I mean, you have been studying Malcolm X for more than a decade now - what you think are the most explosive findings and then throughout the hour, we will tease them out and talk about them.

MANNING MARABLE: I think that Malcolm X was the most remarkable historical figure produced by Black America in the 20th century. That's a heavy statement, but I think that in his 39 short years of life, Malcolm came to symbolize Black urban America, its culture, its politics, its militancy, its outrage against structural racism and at the end of his life, a broad internationalist vision of emancipatory power far better than any other single individual that he shared with DuBois and Paul Robeson, a pan-Africanist internationalist perspective. He shared with Marcus Garvey a commitment to building strong black institutions. He shared with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a commitment to peace and the freedom of racialized minorities. He was the first prominent American to attack and to criticize the U.S. role in Southeast Asia, and he came out four-square against the Vietnam War in 1964, long before the vast majority of Americans did. So that Malcolm X represents the cutting edge of a kind of critique of globalization in the 21st century. In fact, Malcolm, if anything, was far ahead of the curve in so many ways.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to break and then when we come back, we are a going to talk about The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the missing chapters, and where they are, which you have got a chance to see excerpts of.

MANNING MARABLE: That's right.

AMY GOODMAN: We're going to talk about how the autobiography was written, and the F.B.I., their relationship with Alex Haley. We will talk about these things and more in just a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We spend the hour today on Malcolm X, today the 40th anniversary of his assassination. Our guest is Columbia University Professor Manning Marable, writing a biography of Malcolm X, and also the editor of the magazine Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture and Society. The winter 2005 issue, photograph of Malcolm X on the cover, and that's what the whole issue is devoted to, with a major article by Professor Marable. Let's talk about The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

MANNING MARABLE: Okay. The -- most people who read the autobiography perceive the narrative as a story that now millions of people know, and it was -- it's a story of human transformation, the powerful epiphany, Malcolm's journey to Mecca, his renunciation of the Nation of Islam's racial separatism, his embrace of universal humanity, of humanism that was articulated through Sunni Islam. Well, that’s the story everybody knows. But there's a hidden history. You see, Malcolm and Haley collaborated to produce a magnificent narrative about the life of Malcolm X, but the two men had very different motives in coming together. Malcolm did -- what Malcolm did not know is that back in 1962, a collaborator of Alex Haley, fellow named -- a journalist named Alfred Balk had approached the F.B.I. regarding an article that he and Haley were writing together for The Saturday Evening Post, and the F.B.I. had an interest in castigating the Nation of Islam, and isolating it from the mainstream of Negro civil rights activity. So consequently, a deal was struck between Balk, Haley and the F.B.I. that the F.B.I. provided information to Balk and Haley in the construction of their article, and Balk was -- Balk was really the interlocutor between the F.B.I. and the two writers in putting a spin on the article. The F.B.I. was very happy with the article they produced, which was entitled, "The Black Merchants of Hate," that came out in early 1963. What's significant about that piece is that that became the template for what evolved into the basic narrative structure of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

AMY GOODMAN: Did Alex Haley know about this relationship?

MANNING MARABLE: There is no direct evidence that Haley sat down with the F.B.I. Nevertheless, since Balk was the co-author of the piece and it was Balk who talked directly with the F.B.I. --

 

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Text Box: The Undiscovered Malcolm X: Stunning New Info on the Assassination, His Plans to Unite the Civil Rights and Black Nationalist Movements & the 3 'Missing' Chapters from His Autobiography

“Who will protect us from the State?”

Professor Manning Marable

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Amy Goodman

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