As the University community mourns the untimely death of professor Manning Marable on Friday, April 1, his long-awaited biography of Malcolm X is being published this week by Viking Press.
Marable was the M. Moran Weston/Black Alumni Council Professor of African American Studies. A highly-respected historian, social theorist and political activist, he died at age 60 after a long battle with lung disease.
“Manning’s life and work demonstrates both the extraordinary dedication of the scholar and the importance of scholarship in exploring the complexity of life,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger
. “This is a great loss not only for Columbia, but also for an academic field and a society that has benefitted so much from his pioneering work.”
Marable came to Columbia in 1993 after having led programs in African American studies and interdisciplinary studies at Fisk University, Colgate University and Ohio State University. He was the founding director (1993-2003) of Columbia’s Institute for Research in African-American Studies (IRAAS), one of the nation’s most respected African American studies programs, and the Center for the Study of Contemporary Black History (2002-2011), an innovative new media research center at Columbia.
The author of nearly 20 books and more than 275 scholarly articles, Marable was “an epitome of scholarly devotion, and capable of such balanced, insightful judgment,” said Provost Claude M. Steele. “We are all deeply saddened by this loss, and the knowledge that he will not be here to enjoy the acclaim his most recent work will surely bring.”
He will be remembered not only as a scholar but as a much-loved mentor to his students and for his dedication to social and political causes. He devoted time to speaking throughout the country on behalf of labor, civil rights, prisoners’ rights and social justice groups, and taught courses and lectured at Riker’s Island Correctional Facility and Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, NY.
“He wanted his body of work to be an important contribution to the black freedom struggle, which to him was a major dimension of struggles for justice and human dignity worldwide,” said Farah Griffin
, former director of IRAAS and the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African-American Studies. In an interview
with the Columbia Spectator
, Griffin said “even in the throes of his illness, he continued to teach, write and lecture whenever he could.”
Nicholas B. Dirks
, Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences, said, “Manning Marable’s foundational role in building African American studies at Columbia reflected his own passionate commitment to public and institutional work as necessary supplements to scholarly endeavor. He was an exemplary citizen of the University and a beloved colleague who will be greatly missed.”
Marable had spent the last two decades researching and writing Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, which early commentators say is likely to reshape the civil rights leader’s legacy.