Marable, Manning 1950–
MARABLE, Manning 1950–
PERSONAL: Born May 13, 1950, in Dayton, OH; married; wife's name, Hazel Ann; children: three. Education: Earlham College, A.B., 1971; University of Wisconsin—Madison, M.A., 1972; University of Maryland, Ph.D., 1976.
CAREER: Tuskegee Institute, Tuskegee Institute, AL, associate professor of political economy, 1976–78; University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, professor of history, 1979; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, associate professor of political economy and senior research fellow at Africana Studies and Research Center, 1979–82; Fisk University, Nashville, TN, professor of history and economics and director of Race Relations Institute, 1982–83; professor at Colgate University, 1983–86, Purdue University, 1986–87, Ohio State University, 1987–89, and University of Colorado, 1989–93; Columbia University, New York, NY, professor, 1993–, founding director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, 1993–2003, and founder of Center for Contemporary Black History, 2002. Luce Distinguished Professor at Williams College, 1982. Executive director of Black Research Associates, Inc.; member of executive committee of National Black Political Assembly. National vice chair of Democratic Socialists of America. Consultant to National Endowment for the Humanities.
MEMBER: Organization of American Historians, Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History, National Council of Black Studies.
AWARDS, HONORS: Third International Poetry Prize from Triton College, 1976, Fourth International Poetry Prize, 1977.
From the Grassroots: Black Political Essays, South End Press (Boston, MA), 1980.
Blackwater, Historical Studies in Race, Class Consciousness, and Revolution, Black Praxis Press (Dayton, OH), 1981.
How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America, South End Press (Boston, MA), 1982, new edition, 2000.
Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945–1982, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1984.
Black American Politics: From the Washington Marches to Jesse Jackson, Schocken Books (New York, NY), 1985.
W. E. B. DuBois, Black Radical Democrat, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1986.
African and Caribbean Politics: From Kwame Nkrumah to the Grenada Revolution, Verso (London, England), 1987.
(Editor, with Mike Davis, Fred Pfeil, and Michael Sprinker) The Year Left 2: Toward a Rainbow Socialism, Verso (London, England), 1987.
The Crisis of Color and Democracy: Essays on Race, Class, and Power, Common Courage Press (Monroe, ME), 1991.
Beyond Black and White: Transforming African-American Politics, Verso (New York, NY), 1995.
Speaking Truth to Power: Essays on Race, Resistance, and Radicalism, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1996.
Black Liberation in Conservative America, South End Press (Boston, MA), 1997.
Black Leadership, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor) Dispatches from the Ebony Tower: Intellectuals Confront the African American Experience, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor, with Leith Mullings) Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform, and Renewal: An African American Anthology, Rowman and Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2000.
(Author of text, with Leith Mullings) Freedom: A Photographic History of the African Struggle, Phaidon Press (New York, NY), 2002.
The Great Wells of Democracy: The Meaning of Race in American Life, Civitas Books (New York, NY), 2003.
(Editor) Freedom on My Mind: The Columbia Documentary History of the African American Experience, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2003.
(Editor) The New Black Renaissance: The Souls Anthology of Critical African-American Studies, Paradigm Publishers (Boulder, CO), 2005.
Living Black History, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2006.
Also contributor to magazines, including Black Scholar. Author of syndicated newspaper column "Along the Color Line," 1976–. Editor of Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society, 1998–. Contributor to The Souls of W. E. B. Du Bois, edited by Alford Young, Jr., Paradigm Publishers (Boulder, CO), 2005.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.
SIDELIGHTS: As professor of history and political science and former director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, Manning Marable strives to bring intellectual leadership out of academia and into the black community, where he feels it is sorely needed. In so doing, he is following in the footsteps of his hero, African-American sociologist and historian W. E. B. Du Bois. "It's not good enough for us to interpret and critique social, cultural, and political phenomena," Marable told Michele N-K Collison of the Chronicle of Higher Education. "You can write the scholarship and have a passion for democratic change. Somehow a whole generation of black scholars seemed to forget that lesson."
A democratic socialist, Marable is unabashedly Marxist in his appraisals of race relations in the United States. He has presented his views in such books as Black Liberation in Conservative America, Black Leadership, and The Great Wells of Democracy: The Meaning of Race in American Life.
Best known to black Americans for his weekly newspaper column "Along the Color Line," which appears in more than 400 newspapers, Marable was founding director of the Africana and Hispanic studies program at Colgate University, chairman of the black studies program at Ohio State—the largest department of its kind in the nation—and coordinator of the Critical Studies of the Americas programs at the University of Colorado—Boulder, before moving to Columbia in 1993.
Despite his reputation as a respected author and educator, Marable has maintained a relatively low profile in the country's intellectual elite. His controversial views and openly Marxist stance have alienated many in the academic world, and some have argued that his writings are too vague, too superficial, to offer tangible solutions to the urgent sociological problems facing black Americans. According to Collison, Marable believes that there is "systematic injustice in American society and the system of corporate capitalism must be transformed to provide universal health care and jobs for everyone." He contends that black people in the United States must "form a political party that is independent of the Republican and Democratic parties, which he says do not represent their interests."
At the same time, Marable has been criticized for his refusal to embrace a wholly "Afrocentric" point of view. He identifies class, rather than race, as the root of inequality in the United States, and advocates the formation of new, multicultural political alliances—similar to the Reverend Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition—wherein Americans of all backgrounds can voice their concerns and pool their strength. "The 'We Have Overcome' generation has run out of intellectual creativity but refuses to leave the political stage," he said in an interview with Scott Minerbrook of U.S. News and World Report. "Members of the new guard—the leaders of the hip-hop generation born after 1964—have the advanced political ideas but lack the ability to replace their fathers and mothers in leadership. We have to talk about the development of a new leadership that speaks Spanish and Cantonese and Japanese but is also at home with homeboys and homegirls in poor neighborhoods. It is fluent in the culture of hip-hop but also is comfortable with gay and lesbian rights organizations and Hispanic East Los Angeles gang organizations."
Marable was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1950. During his childhood, he received dozens of history books as Christmas presents, and he soon became intrigued by the workings of politics and sociology. "It was decided in utero that I would be a historian," he told Chronicle of Higher Education contributor Collison. While attending Earlham College in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was strongly influenced by the work of leftwing political scientists such as Walter Rodney, whose book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa served as the inspiration for Marable's own provocative study How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America.
After receiving his bachelor of arts in American history in 1971, Marable went on to complete a master's degree at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, and in 1976 received his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. While completing his doctorate, he spent two years as a lecturer at Smith College. He went on to teach political science, history, economics, and sociology at a string of institutions across the country, from Tuskegee and Fisk universities in the South, the University of San Francisco in the West, Purdue and Ohio State in the Midwest, to Colgate, Williams, and Cornell University in the Northeast.
Marable produced his first book, From the Grassroots: Black Political Essays, in 1980 while serving as a senior research fellow and associate professor of political economy at Cornell. Two years later he moved to Nashville to teach history and economics at Fisk, and to take over the directorship of the university's Race Relations Institute. Within one year, however, he found himself back in New York State, teaching sociology and spearheading the development of the new Africana and Hispanic studies program at Colgate University.
Ever eager for new challenges, in 1986 Marable moved to Indiana, where he spent one year as a professor of sociology and political science at Purdue University. The following year he was offered the chairmanship of the department of black studies at Ohio State. He left there in 1989 to become a professor of history and political science and coordinator of the Critical Studies of the Americas programs at the University of Colorado. Then, in 1993, four years into his tenure at Colorado, Columbia University made him an offer he could not refuse: In addition to generous financial support, the university promised him an opportunity to build an entirely new kind of black studies program from the ground up. "There was a program on the books but it didn't really exist," Marable told Collison. "They had a number of professors who write and research in the field. But up until my appointment there was no one who provided the intellectual leadership and the sweat equity necessary to build a program."
Founded in July, 1993, the Institute for Research in African-American Studies directs and administers the undergraduate concentration in African-American studies at Columbia; supports research projects involving scholars from around the world; and operates the Intercultural Resource Center, an off-campus residential facility that offers multicultural programming both to students at Columbia and members of the surrounding community. The institute, which is committed to the motto "Academic Excellence and Social Responsibility," brings together "scholarly analyses that explore the historical, cultural, and social contours of Harlem and of urban black America generally, with a commitment to social responsibility addressing the contemporary political and economic problems that challenge race relations throughout our society," Marable wrote in Race and Reason. Its close proximity to Harlem, he added, "serves as a constant reminder that intellectual work has a powerful and practical connection with the problems of daily life experienced by African Americans and others."
The concept of an institute devoted to the study of black culture dates back to the turn of the century, when sociologist and historian W. E. B. Du Bois introduced a series of academic conferences on black social issues at Atlanta University. In the 1940s, a group of scholars and civil rights advocates, led by sociologist Charles S. Johnson, founded the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University. Established in the South at the height of Jim Crow segregation, the institute was intended to focus scholarly attention on the dynamics of racial inequality. Later, during the tumultuous decades of the 1960s and 1970s, the Institute of the Black World, based in Atlanta, carried on the tradition of socially responsible African-American scholarship.
Marable, who, according to Collison, describes himself as an "intellectual child" of Du Bois, believes that the discipline of African-American studies must challenge and critique many of the racist assumptions and theories of inequality that still underlie traditional scholarship, and that this new scholarship should propose workable solutions or strategies for empowering black people throughout the world. Marable "embodies a credo of academic excellence in the context of activism," Cornell professor of political sociology James E. Turner told Collison. "He does not believe in isolated academic reflection for its own sake."
In keeping with Marable's commitment to activism and political change, the African-American studies program he has helped to develop at Columbia focuses on black politics, public policy, and history, rather than the humanities. "Few African American Studies departments and programs have given significant attention to the emergence of a new set of black political leaders, especially in the context of urban America," he wrote in Race and Reason. "The Institute systematically examines a host of issues focusing on the dynamics of black representation and empowerment: the future of the Civil Rights Movement and organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; the unique problems and the agenda confronting African American state and local officials, especially in New York; styles of political protest and strategies for public policy influence; the development of skills and policy analysis for newly emerging black leaders in a wide variety of public and private institutions; and an assessment of significant electoral campaigns by African American candidates in national, state, and local contests."
In addition to organizing public lectures, educational forums, and conferences that examine issues of public policy and explore prospects for multiracial and multicultural political coalition-building in urban politics, the institute sponsors an ongoing series of research programs. Chief among them is a project titled"Politics and Theory in the Black World," introduced by Marable at the University of Colorado in 1991 and relocated to Columbia in the fall of 1993.
Created to establish an international network of scholars concerned with ideological debate, political movements, pivotal elections, and social issues in black communities throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, and the United States, the project has gained the active support of dozens of prominent scholars, writers, and researchers. Other major research projects organized by the institute include "Black Leadership and Public Policy," which focuses on the African-American community's efforts to achieve power, social development, and influence within the political system; and "Identity, Inequality, and Power," which explores poverty, violence, the destruction of families, ethnic intolerance, and other factors that help to perpetuate social inequality within American society.
In Black Liberation in Conservative America, Marable gathers a number of his essays into what a critic for Publishers Weekly called "a good introduction to a left-wing perspective on issues relating to black America." "Marable's sensible, straightforward approach may be too tame for those well-versed in racial debates," according to a reviewer in American Visions, "but for those just entering the discussion, Marable lays out the key issues, definitions and starting points."
Marable looks at a number of prominent black political leaders, both current and past, in his study Black Leadership. Containing analyses of such leaders as Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Louis Farrakhan, Marable's book argues that black leaders must go beyond mere charismatic popularity to a "more 'group-centered' leadership," as Vanessa Bush explained in Booklist. Vernon J. Williams, Jr., reviewing the book for History, found it to be "an excellent and effective introduction to the subject."
In The Great Wells of Democracy, Marable examines the social construction of black and white as categories and discusses the approaches he sees as necessary for the poor of both races to achieve economic liberation. He "proposes strategies for a more inclusive democracy," as Gary Dauphin noted in Black Issues Book Review. Vernon Ford concluded in Booklist: "Marable penetrates the veneer of democracy and exposes the essential role that race and racism play in America's formation."
In addition to his teaching and research work, Marable serves as an adviser to members of the Congressional Black Caucus and is national cochair of the Committees of Correspondence. He is also an active member of both the Democratic Socialists of America and the National Black Independent Party. According to Collison, it is his participation in these radical organizations, combined with his outspoken adherence to the views of communist theorist Karl Marx, that have prevented him from becoming better known among mainstream academics. "I think his work is respected among people on the left, but it hasn't crossed over to a broad spectrum of thinking," Harvard Law professor Randall L. Kennedy told Collison.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Afterimage, January, 1998, review of Black Liberation in Conservative America, p. 22.
American Visions, April-May, 1998, review of Black Liberation in Conservative America, p. 30.
Black Issues Book Review, September-October, 2002, Suzanne Rust, review of Freedom: A Photographic History of the African Struggle, p. 12; January-February, 2003, Gary Dauphin, review of The Great Wells of Democracy: The Meaning of Race in American Life, p. 53.
Black Issues in Higher Education, July 24, 1997, Melvin C. Terrell, review of Beyond Black and White: Transforming African-American Politics, p. 56.
Booklist, February 15, 1997, Mary Carroll, review of Black Liberation in Conservative America, p. 999; April 15, 1998, Vanessa Bush, review of Black Leadership, p. 1401; February 15, 2000, Mary Carroll, review of Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices of Resistance, Reform, and Renewal: An African American Anthology, p. 1077; December 15, 2002, Vernon Ford, review of The Great Wells of Democracy, p. 712; October 1, 2003, Vernon Ford, review of Freedom on My Mind: The Columbia Documentary History of the African American Experience, p. 296.
Book World, February 16, 1997, review of Black Liberation in Conservative America, p. 12.
Choice, June, 1997, review of Black Liberation in Conservative America, p. 1730.
Chronicles of Higher Education, October 20, 1993, Michele N-K Collison, "You Can't Outgrow New York," pp. A15-17.
Dollars and Sense, September, 2000, Matt Kaden, review of How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America, p. 51.
Essence, November, 1990, p. 130; May, 1991, p. 42.
Ethnic and Racial Studies, May, 2001, review of Dispatches from the Ebony Tower: Intellectuals Confront the African American Experience, p. 486.
Grapevine Weekly, August 6-12, 1981.
Historian, fall, 1999, review of Black Leadership, p. 159.
History, winter, 1999, Vernon J. Williams, Jr., review of Black Leadership, p. 55.
Journal of Politics, February, 1997, review of Beyond Black and White, p. 267.
Journal of Southern History, May, 2002, Charles Pete Banner-Haley, review of Let Nobody Turn Us Around, p. 432.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2002, review of The Great Wells of Democracy, p. 1593.
Kliatt, November, 1999, review of Black Leadership, p. 37.
Library Journal, November 1, 1997, review of Black Leadership, p. 98; December, 2002, Sherri Barnes, review of The Great Wells of Democracy, p. 158; April 1, 2003, Eric Linderman, review of Freedom, p. 95; September 15, 2003, Edward G. McCormack, review of Freedom on My Mind, p. 49; June 15, 2005, Edward McCormack, review of The Autobiography of Medgar Evers, p. 78.
Nation, May 30, 1987, Andrew Kopkind, review of The Year Left 2: Toward a Rainbow Socialism, p. 739.
Progressive, January, 1987, pp. 18-23; December, 1992, p. 42; February, 1993, pp. 20-25; February, 1996, Fred McKissack, review of Beyond Black and White, p. 42.
Publishers Weekly, January 13, 1997, review of Black Liberation in Conservative America, p. 67; April 13, 1998, review of Black Leadership, p. 66; April 25, 2005, review of The Autobiography of Medgar Evers, p. 50.
Race and Reason, autumn, 1994.
Reference and Research Book News, August, 1998, review of Black Leadership, p. 42.
U.S. News and World Report, July 18, 1994, Scott Minerbrook, interview with Manning Marable, p. 29.
Manning Marable Web site, http://www.manningmarable.net (July 25, 2005).