Malcolm would have been 86 today. If you haven’t read Manning Marable’s biography, I highly recommend it. Check out my Q&A with Zaheer Ali, who worked closely with Marable on some of the formative work for the biography.
This biography represents a critical intervention in the public discourse on Islam in America, by reasserting the historic role of African American Muslims in that discussion. Dr. Marable masterfully retraces Malcolm’s spiritual development within the context of the histories of Islam — both in America as well as globally — and presents Malcolm as a figure at the intersection of both histories, and the discourses represented therein.
Malcolm X’s life, as presented here by Dr. Marable, underscores that Islam is not a foreign religion to America, but that it has a deeply rooted history, which challenges attempts to portray America as an exclusively Judeo-Christian nation. Further, Dr. Marable demonstrates how Islam serves as a bridge for Malcolm, connecting him to the broader, global community, and by extension serves as a bridge that connects many Americans to a broader global community.