Sunday, 3 April 2011
Manning Marable (1950-2011)
Gary Younge of the Guardian described Marable as 'a great man, a great intellect an a great loss'. The author of numerous books and essays, his major new biography of Malcolm X is about to be published in the US.
A professor of history and African-American studies at Columbia University, New York, Marable was a pioneer in the study of the history of American black liberation struggles as well as a champion of anti-racist, anti-war and progressive political causes. He recognised and explained the achievements of the civil rights era, but also understood that racism remained an endemic problem in American capitalist society.
Marable argued that racism is structural, rooted in society, not merely a matter of prejudices or something that can be removed by 'affirmative action' within unequal and unjust economic and political structures. The partial advancement of a modest black middle class was not enough, while many remained impoverished - and while the barriers of racism, while less overt than in the segregation era, remained.
Marable was concerned in particular with bringing the past - experiences of both racism and anti-racist resistance - to bear on the present. His book Living Black History, for example, is a collection devoted precisely to the project of rediscovering and re-interpreting black history for the purpose of current struggles.