Monday, November 1, 2010

email from Manning Marable about Malcolm X

An email exchange with Dr. Marable (links added for folks who want to know more, and an obvious typo corrected):
In your interview with the International Socialist Review, you say Malcolm X said, “All my life, I believed that the fundamental struggle was Black versus white. Now I realize that it is the haves against the have-nots.” You say that might be from a CBC interview in January of '65. I found the interview, and it's not there. I've tried googling it and haven't had any luck. Do you have a source handy? I've be ever so grateful.


Will Shetterly
He replied:
The quotation that I give in the interview is not accurate, but the sentiment is correct. The quotation below comes from an interview Malcolm X gave on the Pierre Berton television show in Toronto on January 19, 1965. The interview is mentioned in George Breitman’s book The Last Year of Malcolm X. In the interview, Malcolm explained to Berton “a man should not be judged by the color of his skin but rather by his conscious behavior, by his action.” Malcolm continued by stating, “I believe in a society in which people can live like human beings on the basis of equality.… There will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice, and equality for everyone, and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation. I don’t think that it will be based on the color of the skin.”

I hope this clarifies Malcolm's position at the end of his life. As you can see, he renounced race-based politics in favor of a class analysis. You should also see my website on Malcolm X at My biography of Malcolm X will be available from Viking Press this coming March, 2011.


Manning Marable
I thanked him and said I'd suspected that was a paraphrase. I'm reserving judgment on his theory about Malcolm X's murder, but I'm looking forward to his book. His analysis of the evolution of Malcolm's thought is dead on.

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