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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  July 2, 2011 9:00am-10:00am EDT

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he is fair and i keep thinking don't go back. don't go back. they will kill you when you go back. just stay. and he knows it too. we already know the end of the story and malcolm knows it too. but he goes back anyway in part because he is so american and this is where it is. for him as much as america is insufficient and he has no language it is also the only place he cares about liberating. the only place in the end he is willing to die for and so for me manning gives us what that struggle felt like. it is disseminated. take this couple from me and yet he goes back. somebody?
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egypt and somebody in ghana and be a black national? even in america in the 1950s the black nationalists understood it. he could make a claim that maybe there's a problem with conservatives but blacks as a national at all that's marable editorialized, right? and bringing it back to gender is what i found interesting some of his passages on gender he
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attributed malcolm's attitudes towards women towards nationalism when at the same time martin luther king stated he could not work with strong black women. he didn't know how to do it. this is something if we were to take black political ideology, it's not black nationalism, it's black integrationists and black radicalists it's not black feminists for reasons we can't understand why. this is one of the passages no, this is marable editorializing and that's why it's incumbent. the black academy is far more diverse when manning started. far more diverse but what we really need is more straight up black nationalist dollars because black nationalism is the most misunderstood black political ideology. [laughter] >> that passage stuck me as well
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and i would just say -- my response to it was that -- that this was a very american moment. if you've traveled outside of the u.s., particularly, the first time you go to affirmative action particularly as an african-american and as a conscious african-american, so you have the whole framework of race and you know the history of the whole thing, you are struck dumb, actually. when you are kind of confronted with the diaspora. i think this is not an unusual phenomenon. i think that particularly as malcolm was an orator, a speaker -- he spoke all the time and those of us who spoke all the time have phrases except for michael eric dyson who everything he says is original. [laughter] >> i don't know how he does it. most of us humans, we have
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certain ways of speaking. and we don't even realize they're transitioning us from one thing to other. this is what we do. particularly the subjects that we know about and care about and we're into. and as somebody myself who is a civil rights lawyer and worked on civil rights for many years, it's the first time i spent time in africa. i talk much less than i do here. i was virtually struck dumb and i was struck dumb for some of the reasons that melissa explains but also because i had to hit the reset button on a whole series of issues that had to do with race, that had to do with my own identity and so forth. and in the process of hitting that reset button, it's almost the computer is recalibrating what you know. 'cause you're not throwing everything what you know but a lot of what you know has to be infused through a lens and be recalibrated and what immediately comes after that, that's the part of the page i
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like, because once that happens, it's almost like you have a new language. you have a new way of talking. there is a new infusion in your -- and it's because of your thinking. there's a new infusion in your thinking as well as your speaking. and so when i read that, and this is one of those points in the book as well where for all malcolm's critique of america and this is what made melissa said just so striking a moment ago about, you know, him coming back to america and this being the place -- the only place he was willing to die for, is how distinctly american he was and this story is. so that was another one of those moments write felt like that was a moment that americans will experience or can resonate with. and he had that moment also and that is both, for me, the tremendous power of the store but also the real tragedy of the story as well. that there is something about particularly the struggle for racial justice in america that
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has this air of the tragic to it because as much as you make the connections in other places, you are american. and it's got you, you know, in ways that even when you don't want to be had, it's got you. and there's just something in that that's very, very powerful and also very tragic. [applause] >> is there something you want to add? >> no. [laughter] >> i knew you were going to do that. [laughter] >> but not to be brief. [laughter] >> i will say this, i think that brain formulation about it's not just, you know, black nationalism that is at a loss there and the powerful point about the music, about finding other ways to express it and to say it, and i think about what professor ifill talked about
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earlier as well in regard to the textuality of interpretness and they shall interpret the groans and the utterances and, man, the world spirit of african consciousness is a hold of malcolm at that moment. and nothing is capable. >> i think before god, you know, this theolan and a religious philosopher talked about the tremendous mystery and the awe, and i do think, you know, given what professor spence, even though i remain critical of certain versions of racial fundamentalism, black fundamentalism is so much more powerful and larger and broader than what we made it typically to be that there is something about all of us in the face of
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the utter unpitiable reality of our blackness. that when we embrace it without excuse or impunity we're rendered mute because it's an experience of awe. i can second that one. >> let me allow the audience to jump in here while we have time. the microphone is here to my left. if you want to identify yourself, that'd be great and ask your question. >> my name is michael christensen. he would get them to say this over and over again. and one of the things that happened and historically we have diminished that period as them being somewhat misguided, privileged and what fred and the black party panther did, you know, if that was so diminishing and not so powerful how come they created things and attacked
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all those people over and over again. because what they do, the black panther party and fred hampton, they did a critique of capitalism and that's one thing that happened -- when you listen to all the speeches and malcolm that's what they started to do and the evolution was a critique of capitalism and what you start doing that, that's where the danger happened and our scholars -- our black scholars, they don't really do that. you know, you talk about black nationalism and this, a critique of capitalism is very dangerous. >> i mean, it's a worthy comment in the context of talking about manning marable whose politics -- i think part of his anxiety was black nationalism is precisely he understood his politics, rooted more in a black
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socialist tradition. now, i will say -- i want to ask manning, well, how do we do this? i was a graduate student and i was trying to get a job in the academy and one of the most powerful things manning ever did was teach me how to get what i needed from this institution. financially. people don't talk about it at all. they just act like you should get a job and be happy. manning you ask for this and you ask for this and the next day you ask for this and the next they they don't give it to you, it's all right. and how do i ask before contract and i have a commitment to questions of economic justice and manning smiled that smile if you knew him you know, melissa, nothing is too good for the working class. you know, one of the things i'm reminded in that and i appreciate the challenge that you have just offered because i
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do think that there is -- there is real intellectual danger in our connections to institutions that heed us. and i think that one of the things that manning's text on malcolm suggests to us is the ways -- i mean, part of the fight -- the fight, the lead to his death about the nation is about having a roof over his head. if malcolm had had an independent, wealthy, whatever who could have taken his wife and four children at that point and put them in a home where they could have lived all of them together, he actually would not have had to fight with the nation theologically, politically, intellectually that he did. he literally couldn't afford to live. i think we also learned sometimes from some of the more critical text on king including dyson's incredibly important book on king is like he is hustling. he is working. he is -- he's giving talks not because he likes his big voice
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because that's what feeds himself and the movement and i think there is no doubt we have to simultaneously recognize that we are, even when you're the black elite, you are working fricking class because you are not he -- i mean, my people, when they died there would be nothing, right? so you're not intragenerationally wealthy like your peers but you have a house but you have a mortgage on that sucker, right? on the other hand we are structurally positioned different than others but at the same time need to continue to engage in a economic critique that fit with our political gender, social one but it can be difficult so i appreciate the comment in part because it just reminds us of precisely the work that malcolm and manning did. [applause] >> one of the things that points to -- so we now really study and are able to get a certain cachet to studying racial inequality, right? if you go to hopkins and look at
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their history syllabus. i don't have anything on labor history. if you're going to do the same thing, you won't find anything on labor history. political science doesn't have a class on class politics even though i teach the class on racial policy. so i think what we have to do in some ways, those of us who in the academy who are the beneficiaries of manning's work, what we have to do is start to re-educate ourselves to really deal significantly with class. and i say that as somebody with black nationalist leanings, both enter -- enter racially and intraracially and that's how class plays out. >> those are brilliant points. i hope you really hear them because those are very important points. i just would simply add to piggyback what professor harris-perry said, martin luther
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king, jr., had to borrow money from his daddy to pay his taxes because he was giving so much of it -- the reason i think he's the greatest american and malcolm x along in that same -- certainly in that same cohort is because of the level of sacrifice was mind-boggling and like brother -- professor spence said you got kids and you're thinking differently. and his wife is a shrew and a hag, you got to take care of the kids. he left her in the hood when he bought a crib, 1965, two years before he died because he had gone to india and believed people shouldn't own property. the radical king was a true radical and believed not in possessing personal property, but, look, he borrowed money from his daddy for taxes and harry bell phenomenonity had taken out a $100,000 policy on
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each of his five kids. so if malcolm had had a benefactor, if he had been langston hughes, so to speak, and could get some of that white harlem dough, he would have a different perspective. even as we deconstruct capital, the point of karl mark deconconstruction -- deconstruction of the capital. when he said, dude, can you take care of my daughter and i believe in ira, individual reparation account. i believe in ira, individual reparations accounts. you can't give it to great, great, great grandpa but you can redistribute wealth towards some of the contemporary people who are inheriting their ideas but it makes it more incumbent upon
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us to press the argument forward and to tell the truth about the suffering of the masses who don't even have the quandaries we have because they don't even have a wage. they don't even have a salary. so when we deconstruct, let's not talk about obliterating or eviscerating wealth, let's talk about its equitable distribution. [applause] >> yeah, good evening. i'm from west africa, liberia, and i'm a middle school math teacher and i say that to say that. i've been in this country for about 20, 25 years. i went to school in baton rouge at an all-black experience and i'm very proud of experience and i did not read alex haley's account by malcolm x and been osmosis, but i would like to
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pose two points. one is i kind of quietly questioned the relevance of black nationalism after it was practiced in the 1960s, you know, is it still relevant to have all these attributes, you know, to be put out there? and if you've read manning's book, as a black african, the one universal truth that i can take from that book because, you know, i think you have a story that is not just, you know, an african-american story. so, you know, that universal truth. [inaudible] >> yeah. let's take this one first. >> okay. >> second question. >> all right. no. it's totally irrelevant. [laughter]
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>> no. here's the deal. right? they embrace at its best, at its best for me, what black nationalism is about is finding best practices, best cultural practices that we can use to develop the tools to create to reform and reshape our identity and the spaces in which we live in a way that's humane and work bests for black people and it can in turn serve as a set of practices or a kind of -- a kind of a body of work that can be used to change america in general. so i would actually say that there is more of a need now for black nationalism than even in the '50s given kind of the shape -- the changing way we understand blackness in race. >> i would only have to ask that
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you define the term. >> yeah. i was going to say, you know, les and i have been having this fight for decades so we don't have to replay this at the moment, but i would say i guess i could agree that those are the best aspects of it for me the most dangerous aspects of it are to the extent it releases the boundaries of blackness so in making that claim what's good for black people is determine who are the appropriate black people for whom something should be good for and what so frequently happens in practice, if not in theory is the policing out of clear identities of women, of, you know -- the claim by our colleague, cathy cohen in her brilliant book "the boundaries of blackness" is that one of the reasons that the black church is so slow in mobilizing around the hiv crisis in black communities because it required a focus on those elements of the communities that were disreputable, iv drug
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users, those who were gay men, those who may have other sexual practices that people had anxiety about. and because the civil rights movement had been so fully engaged on making a claim on citizenship based on the respectability of black people and we are citizens and you're misunderstanding us. bill cosby, right, so what it didn't leave room for was the right to be a citizen if you're not bill cosby and you have a right to health care even if you are practicing these disreputable practices. so i think that on the one hand nationalism at its most broad is a core love for blackness and black people, a preferential option for blackness which so doesn't exist, that having a preferential option for blackness that appears for anything like who you buy your car from when you go to the dealership and you're like the black guy, even if he's cheating at least the cheating is going to a black guy, right?
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[laughter] >> or saying, no, i actually don't want to live in the white -- preferential option for blackness in a variety of ways but the danger is that it can also limit what we think an appropriate blackness and certainly -- and manning's book on malcolm does that in that it's trying to retain malcolm x as the core leader of african-american politics at this moment and simultaneously deconstruct who we think this black body is. and suggest to us that it is more challenging, more difficulty, more complex and more at the boundaries of its own blackness than we would typically allow it to be in our mythology. >> just real quick, we disagree on black nationalism. we don't disagree on black feminism. >> we do in that you said nationalism was the most important thing. >> okay. so i say it as an aside. [laughter] >> go ahead. >> hello.
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thank you so much. i really appreciate it. i want to thank you for all the panel. thank you for being here. i'm originally from california. but i've been in baltimore for seven years. i'm an alum from morgan state and i'm an artist but i have a love for humanity and life and understanding people's stories so that's what brought me here this evening. but i come from -- my grandparents left catholicism and went into the natiislam and mother and father embraced after mohammed died, his son came about and i'm a product of that. i lived in africa as a young girl. my father studied arabic and then moved back to the country and now i'm here living my life as a young muslim woman in
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america. and so one of the things that i find interesting is that story of black nationalism and how i'm a part of that but then to understand that mohammed not only produced malcolm x and muhammad ali and louis farrakhan and these are pretty significant figures in our time that we all sort of look to. and i'm curious to know from the panel how you guys look to see how malcolm was directing the black community to essentially islam, i guess, and when i say islam, it's arabic, islam it means the peace and so i'm curious to know how i guys feel about that and how about mall col as a young islam in america how he was directing
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african-americans to understand it and to study it and to understand -- the understanding of jihad which means struggle in arabic but, yeah, it means struggle and how we all struggle and we all have our personal struggles but it's really within. it's not about pointing fingers and saying, this person is harming me but we really have to do the work on the inside. so pretty broad question, but i'm very curious to know what you guys feel about mainly the question is, how do you feel about malcolm leading the black community to learn and understand islam. >> okay. well, you know, my wife in the nation of islam under elijah mohammed, right, as a young girl. she was 16 years old and had left left catholicism or was on her way.
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i get it confused. i know she was under catholicism and then under the nation of islam and was reading malcolm x's book. had it snatched out of her hand and was reprimanded and then taken to elijah muhammad. that story could have turned out differently in many ways in many ways i don't want to speak on. so i begin there for the reason that now as a mature, brilliant minister and social activist, she is, not me, so i'm not -- right. well, she is a mature minister and brilliant social activist who passed through islam and through catholicism and through christiani christianity, no she's still a christian so to speak. it's very interesting to me to
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see that the marks on her life have been extraordinarily positive and edifying. malcolm x when i think malcolm directing black people toward islam, i have think of millions of people who have subscribed and held on to the faith. the problem, of course, is not in islam. in its theological verities that it produces in the same way as christianity. it's in the practice of it and the perversion of it by people who done messed it up. [applause] >> so i think that malcolm mixes ambition, moral ambition cannot be distinguished from what he learned from elijah muhammad at his best. he did produce a farrakhan minister in an episcopalian church in boston and ali chose to stay in the nation of islam
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when malcolm left. and i got a chance to speak to muhammad ali, he should have been much more open-minded. to be brief, that it's the ideals and the theologies and the moral verities are great and i think what malcolm did is about love as black people and i'm going to say something as a black minister, it transcends yo christianity and your islamic faith there are some christians who claim they know jesus who are doing crazy stuff that i don't agree at all i would rather be atheists who are doing the work of jesus or the holy koran or the art of motorcycle maintenance but i think in the end -- here's where i ironically even though i tried to be critical of many elements of the fascist dimensions of black insular thinking and the way in which as professor harris-perry says that it polices the
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boundaries of blackness you want us all to be together and you say except these kind of people who are black. what the hell are you talking about if you can't accept the gay people or the lesbian people. in operational unity from black nationalism in the 1960s or -- or it means nothing. it ultimately means ultimately my blackness and my religion have converged into love and i think love in the ultimate sense unless we can embrace and love blackness at every instance of it, not that we're not critical in the ways it has problematized people -- if martin luther king, jr., was doing something to help black people, cool, but i think ultimately it must help us to become more humane in the midst of our struggles and anything, religion included, that
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interferes with the process of radical dissemination of love at the instance of our existence or in community is antithetical to humans and i think ultimately to god. [applause] >> the only other thing i would say and i'm glad, you know, if we're on own personal testimonies -- [laughter] >> no. only that -- only that there was this period -- there was this important opening of, i think, the black mind in the late 50s and through the '60s that had a lot to do with the civil rights movement and it would be really a mistake for people not to understand the significance of malcom x and the nation of the nation of islam growing that mind. i had two sisters who joined the nation of islams in the 1960s.
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this was shocking. we were raised in a very christian family. this was extremely shocking. and yet what came out of it was a kind of respect, a kind of -- it made us curious. it didn't shatter the love and the relationship. and for something that, you know, we didn't really know very much about. what we knew about the nation of islam, we knew because of mohammed -- muhammad ali. we didn't have any markers within our community to tell us about the that's of the islam and those two things that we knew, malcom x and muhammad ali was positive and so it created this opportunity, it created this door through which we did begin to open our minds and we did begin to open our minds about the range of black experiences that were out there.
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what disturbing me in post-9/11 and the aftermath of 9/11, we had an opportunity to further that opening of our minds. it was -- it was actually the blast, you know, should have opened our minds, the horror of this thing should have opened our minds. and should have made us ask questions and should have made us listen for real answers and there was a brief moment -- there were about two weeks when i thought it was going to happen. and then it didn't happen. and, in fact, it has really closed the american mind tight in many ways particularly about islam and the very things you were just describing in asking your question. and so this is a moment in which, you know, in reading this book, in reading about the nation of islam and reading particularly about malcolm's journey after his hajj and his feeling about islam and how it
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really centered his -- began to center his ideas about who he wanted to be and the contributions he wanted to make really calls to mind in this very disturbing moment where we are in right now that this is precisely what we need is to do exactly what the examination that michael eric dyson says that we need to examine, which is about trying to find a quality about love that unites this peace and yet this is the very moment we're saying, no, i won't -- no, no, no. we know that's the way and yet there seems to be this willful desire to turn away from it and so it's very poignant reading about malcolm's journey as a muslim in this book at the precise moment that we're in this kind of field of darkness and disinformation about islam. [applause] >> we're going to say the earlier suggestion right now and we're going to take the next
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three folks in line there. each to make a comment and we'll see what time we have left, okay? go ahead, sir. >> good evening. >> good evening. >> i really enjoyed everything said thus far. i'm a lecturer at morgan state and being a lecturer i primarily teach freshmen and sophomores and what i discovered when this book came out and first opening it and wanting to bring to my class -- i actually took it to one class. but what quickly came to me was that i was teaching young people who only have the version of denzel washington cinematic version of malcolm x. it's hard what i'll call a complex investigation, you know, about the book when there was -- little to no prior knowledge.
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so i said it before, i can get rid of the spike lee/malcolm x, the alex haley malcolm x, but the question is, to a generation that doesn't even have the alex haley malcolm x, it only has the denzel washington, malcolm x, how do you believe this book will play into the younger people coming up learning malcolm x for the first time, period? >> that's a really good question. ma'am, go ahead. >> my name is kachobe and i'm an educator in baltimore. my question is very similar to the gentleman who stood before me, rather. i just want to preface my question with the following. on the way over here, my children and i took the light rail, and we saw about five
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young black males, teenagers being questioned by the police. mta police, that is transit police. and what bothered me is that four of them were let go but they had one sitting on the ground. and he was told to keep his hands behind his back. he actually at the point of being asked to stand up, stood up. without any kind of smugness and he followed all of their, you know, commands so to speak. raise your hands, let me frisk you all of that kind of thing. i say all of that that i am one who totally embraces alex haley's interpretation of malcolm x's life. i say that as one who has not read mr. manning's book on malcolm x, but i fully intend to.
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but i just ask you scholars, you teachers, what is the message that this current work -- what is the message that this current work will bring to our young black males that alex haley's words has not brought to us? >> very good question. sir in the blue shirt. >> hi. my name is alex, malcolm x meant a lot to me since i read it in high school. i read it right when the movie came out and it was really a big deal in my school. never heard of him. and if he can hear him i want some respect to go to him. it's amazing. but i had a three-part kind of comment, i guess, one, it seems to me that with seeing the failures of a great leader, it's almost like us growing up and seeing our parents differently. like we see our parents as heroes, then we see their
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failings and all of a sudden we just want to rage against the world because they are not what we thought they would be and in the end we get together and we realize that's what makes them great. the second part is i think a key to malcolm x ends to what you're saying about how his story unfolded is that his story -- it's all marked by conversion. he converted to the nation of islam and, therefore, doing that he had to create a narrative of conversion. i was once this. now i'm this. and so that even makes it harder when you talk about an autobiography. because he would keep reinventing that as he goes along. he was inventing the story as it goes with the conversion. i think being a islam is a big part of who he is and a big part of what makes him challenging for everyone. but i also noticed that malcolm
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x becomes more and more alienated as he goes along because he challenges life and politics oh, yeah you did great. he keeps challenging and growing. he goes to another one and he becomes muslim and becomes separate around the people around him and going to a country and suddenly becoming different around the people around him. he has a life of increased alienation in a way it would strange he was killed by african-americans just like danni was killed by hindus. >> a quick question in response to all of this. is it just you left. well, then get up there. there's a whole line and you're sitting there all by yourself. >> i'm a student at the university. my question is because, you know, there's been a discussion
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briefly about black nationalism and i guess my question is is it possible to have a formulation of black nationalism that addresses some of the policing that goes on in what dr. dyson gave the fascist elements of secular black thinking. is it possible to have a black nationalism that addresses that policing and how this mr. marable -- or dr. marable's book, how does his portrayal of malcolm x help in that conversation of the policing of the boundaries of blackness and black nationalism and its potential as a framework for political advancement of black people in this country? >> okay. great. [applause] >> well, i think i wanted to go to the question that the woman asked who saw the people on the light rail and actually reminds us of the earlier question i think we didn't answer about this theme that can see out of the book. i'm not one to give people universal themes out of books 'cause i think that's the fun of reading it that you discover
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itself but i think i understand what do you mean about the question and also what i hear maybe a little bit of anxiety about malcolm. and i want to say a couple things. i'm very happy to say your children will realize that's why you're great because right now that's not happening with my kids so i'm hoping that will happen. wonderful news. [laughter] >> but i do think that -- i understand the anxiety. i don't think we should -- because we're in this room tonight and because we are admirers of manning marable pretend to ourselves that alex haley's malcolm x is going away anytime soon or spike lee's. first of all, you're right. first of all, they should not. autobiography of malcolm x is a brilliant book. it should be read because it's a brilliant book. and it tells a story that is powerful and tells us many
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things about what it means to be black in america. it's an important -- it must be read. it's a seminal work. it's not going to change because we learned more details about malcolm's life that make him more human or because we learn his failings and so forth. a letter from a birmingham jail written by martin luther king is no more diminished nor is the "i have a dream speech" on the april 1954 speech because we know he had extramarital affairs or whatever. it just doesn't work that way. do you know what i mean? and we do have to open our minds to that and i would suggest, you know, we follow the example of what white america does with its heroes. [laughter] >> i mean this seriously. we know a lot of george washington, for example, that we probably didn't know when we were little kids. we know he chopped down the cherry tree and he was the father of the nation. at some point we learned. if you read andrew's amazing book and george washington and his slaves, it's worth reading. people didn't stop calling him
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the father of the nation. people didn't stop saying that he was a great man or founder. we still have many series to john adams. one of the problems is we get so nervous about our own leaders and the requirement that they be perfect even as other portions of the american public recognize the complexity of their heroes and refuse to allow their essential greatness to be diminished. so i have no problem maintaining what i think is a truth, which is alex haley's malcolm x because it's the truth. it has all the pieces that it's talked about. it's shaped by the times, it's shaped by haley and how malcolm thinks of himself and all of that relevant in thinking who this man is. the spike lee movie, it's a damn good movie. and although it is not a documentary, it never purported to be a documentary.
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and so, therefore, it does what every movie fictionalized account of a great person does is that it takes liberties. and some of those liberties are greater than others. so i think that those stories are not going away anytime soon. i'm not certain that this is going to be made into a movie. i don't know. maybe it will be. but i do think that we shouldn't overestimate, you know, how quickly the revision will happen. it's going to take time for people to absorb some of what's in here and i take it that this -- and i think manning marable would want that. that this would begin a conversation -- other people will write, other people will take portions of this and take up maybe looking more at the nation of islam and looking at more black nationalism in this period and this is the beginning of a story and since these are my closing remarks this is what's great about the book as manning marable's life. he didn't close something he didn't close the definitive work
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on the story of malcolm x. he opened a new story and that means his work will go forward and have tremendous life as other people take up different aspects of it and begin to explore it even further. [applause] >> michael eric dyson. >> amen, amen, amen, amen. that's just great stuff. that the book should be continued to be read. it's a great book. it's a great story. and the shape of moral ambition in america is the shape of story. and, you know, that's why we're living in a post-literate culture where people are going to the movies to get their fix for what novels do. novels are not dead but it's certainly migrated to the screen and the way in which people consume information watching john daily versus, you know, even cnn or watching cnn as opposed to reading the "new york times" or reading the "new york times" as opposed to the
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guardian. so there's various level in which people consume information and, you know, i don't think we should be elitists about it. even as we're rigorous in our exploration of the ideas there. so i think the spike lee film is the greatest black biopic made i would argue. i'm saying which was deeper than that. and there are -- there are like three or four segments in that film when denzel as malcolm is doing nothing but spitting fire at white supremacy in a way you wish obama could do in four years, right? as professor harris-perry said we know what the limitations are and even though i'm a peace-nik at the end of the day i'm interrupting donald trump's show so i can announce bin laden is dead? how do you like me now. first of all, there ain't no mistakes allowed, but anyway, at some level i got to be straight
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up black masculinist and you say i'm spineless and have no cajones and it's the american empire and there's a brown face on the empire and you have to kill somebody to prove that you're america. that's -- not just somebody. right, right. but anyway, so having said that, the greatest biopic i think made, the malcolm x film and i think -- and denzel had been robbed. i think al pacino had been robbed before in the godfather and these are great questions in terms of malcolm x, you know -- in terms of conversion. it's true. i mean, the beautiful central element of malcolm's life is constantly going from one thing to another. constant conversion. constant rethinking. and i'll tell you what that
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involves. vulnerability and self-criticism. and a lot of leaders just don't of that. a lot of intellectuals ain't got that. a lot of critics ain't got that and a lot of people who don't know who we are and they don't have the will to be vulnerability and critical. and i heard when the gentleman said it ended up black people killing him and maybe well, even if the state was involved and one of the things we didn't even get to tonight is manning marable makes very clear that the ny pd knew what the deal was and that state police forces knew what the deal was and didn't warn malcolm. they didn't warn [music playing] and they liked him better compare actively speaking to malcolm x so why wouldn't they warn malcolm x. one of the characteristics marks of blackness is self-sabotage and the willingness to hate other blacks. that's just funky, internalized white supremacy that's spread in black face. it's the inventory trillist act of white supremacy, black mouth moving white ideas speaking.
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[applause] >> i think the hatred and self-sabotage that we internalized and disseminated is characteristic of what happened to malcolm and what we must resist in ourselves and why re retreat. that's why i think love is at heart and malcolm embraced that at his best and what manning's book can do it can help, i think, open up a conversation about what black nationalism is and what it should be and what any, not just black nationalism but any ideology, any politics, any theory that is put forward in the name of people, the litmus test must be to what degree does it free vulnerable and working peoples who are black, who are poor and whose backs are against the wall and to what degree does it arrive in their lives as a vehicle of liberation. that's the litmus test at the end of the day and i think this book will help forward this particular thing. [applause] >> the one question that wasn't
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really answered yet is the teaching question. i'm going to try to take it at a different way. 1965 is to this generation as world war i was to me and professor harris-perry. if you think about it like that, we have not just -- [laughter] >> let him finish. let him finish. [inaudible] >> if you think about that a second, it's not just about teaching malcolm. it's about teaching the '60s, the '70s, the '80s and the '90s. right? i mean, you got people who don't know who rodney king is, right. so this is -- so getting back to the nationalism thing, i want to take another cut at it. this is why we need a set of cultural institutions that can teach our history in a way that speaks both to our past and our
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present moments, right? again, it's not just black nationalism that say okay, gay people aren't black. there are black nationalist churches but the black church is not nationalist, right? so i would say it's really about taking that -- taking that text, using it as part of a much larger body and creating the spaces where you can take that larger body of text, to speak to black people where they are. [applause] >> thank you. >> okay. so a lot of different things and i'll try to do this quickly. i was feeling sad as i was listening to the story about the young man and the mta and part of the reason i felt sad about it is my sense that ultimately this context talking about a book and talking about a thinker and talking about ideas is profoundly important and
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woefully inadequate on that question. i sat at a dinner with a civil rights icon at one point and we were talking about king and x. and i was talking about the assassination of malcolm x and this civil rights leader said to me, martin luther king was assassinated. malcolm x was a common folk who died in a street fight. and i was -- and i was stunned and i said wait a minute. he said well, let me explain. martin changed policy. when you look at what martin luther king said i can show you the 1964 act, i can show you the 1965 voting rights act. i can walk you through structural changes. now, i think there are a lot of reasons that that is unfair. but what i do want to take from that difficult moment and the ways i had to process and think about that is that a lot of what manning gives us and a lot of talking about ideas and i don't
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want to us lose that ultimately our notion that alex haley's version of malcolm x can free the young men on the platform of the mta is an assumption that what keeps them in that moment of bondage is their belief about who they can be. rather than the set of public policies that make their bodies easily victimized by people in uniform. and so i care about what our young people believe. i'm a mother. i'm a teacher. i care at my core about what we believe. but i do not believe that african-american inequality is primarily the result of lack of imagination on the part of our black people. the critical liberating possibility of black religion, and this is true whether it takes the form of ancestral religions of christianity or -- i wanted to come back to your nation question just for a
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second, i think one of the things we have not been honest relative to the nation is that the nation of islam is like jazz. if the black christian churches is the blues, then -- god, i sound like cornell. i don't mean it that way. [laughter] >> what i mean it is an indigenous black institution, right? so what i mean there are very few american theology, right, that are born here, not imported and the two that exists here, that were born here are black liberation theology out of slave religion that is about christianity and the nation of islam. right, so there are two forms of islam that find their way here but immigration islam only finds it somewhere because the nation exists as an indigenous institution. part of what makes that initial slur towards president obama muslim and then what we know that when they say muslim what they mean is "n" word. we know that those things are linked and so part of the pain,
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the absolute pain of the moment of the killing of bin laden is that we all feel the jz ha-ha barack obama did it. he had to kill the muslim to do it. if a black president had to kill the muslim hoping -- and then the white folks still gave the credit to the white president who ain't around these parts no more. [applause] >> for having done it. so we feel that because we know that there is -- it was like black people wearing the nypd hat post-9/11. i never felt the moment because when i saw black men in the city of new york, while rudy giuliani was the mayor, wearing nypd hats, right, as a reflection of their solidarity with the american state over and against the islamic terrorists, okay, so our identities are complex and the beauty of our nation and the beauty of alex haley's malcolm which is a faith claim and the
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beauty of the christian god that enslaved people gave us was that they all are about an incredible imagination that is outside of empirical evidence. my great, great, great grandmother was sold on the street corner in churchill, richmond. she never knew anything for herself but slavery. never knew anyone from her except slavery. never expected her children or grandchildren to be anything but slaves and she believed god loved her. why? why would she believe such a ridiculous thing? there was no empirical evidence that god even vaguely liked or noticed that black people existed on the planet. like seriously. and so -- this is why i hate the form of christianity like if god loves you you get a big house. >> prosperity. [laughter] >> so the whole -- the whole inherent possibility is that we have always had extraordinary manual nations and you know what? grandma died a slave anyway despite the fact that she knew
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herself to be a full human being loved by god. so what i know is that malcolm x's autobiography is this powerful text but unless you're holding it in front of you when they shoot at you, it's insufficient. it is perhaps important but always insufficient. so i suppose what i want to take away from it is that the work that we have to do is structural work. the ideas are critically important. we need the ideas. i'm afraid about our bad ideas. i'm afraid when we have ideas that say the best way to liberate yourself as a woman is to be betty shabazz or michelle obama and attach yourself to an important man because -- and part what i love about this book it deconconstructs -- deconstructs and it shows the suffering of betty shabazz so we don't have to tell our daughters that it matters. and even if i don't want to be
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michelle obama or betty shabazz and as long as i have reasonable control over my fertility, because they couldn't control their fertility because there was no ability technically to be able -- if i don't have health coverage, so i would love for barack to spitfire to white folks, whatever, but what i'm much more interested in is i can look at his housing policy is fundamentally different. so -- i mean, i want a spitfire, that would be hot. >> literally. >> right. but in the end, i just want us to remember that we will not -- we cannot save our children exclusively through ideas. we must save them through ideas but it can never exclusively be ideas. we already knew we were human. we already knew that god loved us. now we have to take the political work that says if god loves us, and if i'm a human, then you as the state cannot continue to treat me as though i am not. [applause]
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>> as we close the evening, i want to thank marable manning panel for being here this evening. and for marable manning who wrote this book as a man and scholar, and malcolm x life of invention, thank you all for taking your time tonight. [applause] >> thank for all of you for being here. and i thank you for coming tonight and i thank the library for coming here and i thank c-span for covering it. and letting you all know that it will be on weta next week. and get all the information you need on all of our guests and the books they've written and the work they're doing. thank you all for coming out tonight. [applause] >> manning marable passed away on april 1st, 2011, at the age
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of 60. just days before the publication of his biography of malcolm x. mr. marable was the director of the malcolm x project at columbia university. to find out more, visit >> what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> well, i just finished decision points by president bush. and it was really good. i enjoyed the conversational tone that he took in describing his presidency and the events, the big events like 9/11 and some of the other events that were a part of his eight-year presidency. i'm in the process of getting to


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