The publication of a controversial new book, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by the respected African-American academic and activist manning Marable, who died days before his book was released in May, has put a new twist on the legacy of one of America's most revered black figures. As Leslie Goffe reports, some will find the book-which has become an overnight bestseller-liberating while others will find it disturbing.
MALCOLM X WAS ONCE THE most feared black man in America. A leader of the Nation of Islam, Malcolm dared tell whites they were inferior to blacks and that they were a "race of devils" created by an evil scientist. Malcolm X dared, too, to tell blacks they should use "any means necessary" to achieve equal rights and justice, including picking up the gun.
At a time in the 1960s when Martin Luther King was preaching nonviolence and telling black people to turn the other cheek, Malcolm X was telling black people to use the bullet, if the ballot didn't work.
Assassinated in 1965, aged just 39, allegedly by members of the Nation of Islam angry that he left the group and exposed corruption in its ranks, Malcolm X was remembered at his Harlem funeral as "our living, black manhood" and as "our own black shining Prince."
But the way Malcolm X will be viewed in the future has been complicated by the publication of a controversial new book, which has quickly become a bestseller, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. The book, published days before its author, the respected African-American academic and activist Manning Marable, died aged 60, offers complex new twists to the portrait of Malcolm X's political and personal life.
Marable alleges that Malcolm X was bisexual, that early in his teens and twenties, when he was a street hustler and drug dealer, he engaged in sex acts with men for money and formed a longstanding sexual relationship with a wealthy white man.
The claims that Malcolm X had same-sex relations and worked for a time as a male prostitute "servicing queers", are allegations that have long been rumoured and written about in other books.
But in Marable's book, it appears this is the first time the rumours have been substantiated and endorsed by a highly regarded figure and someone respected in all quarters. To his death, Marable was considered one of America's leading scholars of African-American history and race relations. A radical academic and activist, Marable, founder of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University in New York, was once described as "the most dangerous black professor in America" because of his advocacy...