Temkin both reviews Manning Marable’s Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention and reflects more broadly upon Malcolm X’s political trajectory and human rights activism in the context of American, African-American, and international history. He seeks to analyze the meanings of Malcolm X’s rhetoric, social background, and global ambitions, in particular vis-à-vis the civil rights movement, the geopolitics of the Cold War, and the place of the United States in the wider world. He also focuses on the strengths and limitations of Marable’s approach to Malcolm X’s career and on the distinctions between humanizing Malcolm X and historicizing him. Temkin's essay concludes with some speculations on the implications that Malcolm X’s life and death might have for understanding public affairs today.
Forty-nine years ago today, at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, gunmen opened fire on the African-American activist Malcolm X, killing him almost instantly. He was 39 years old. By the time of his murder, Malcolm had become an isolated figure in American life. He spent most of the last year of his life either abroad (in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe) or preparing to go abroad.
Forty-nine years ago today, at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, gunmen opened fire on the African-American activist Malcolm X, killing him almost instantly.