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In Honor of Manning... - By Steven Pitts - Editorial Board

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Manning Marable�Brother Manning Marable�Ever since I received the e-mail announcing his passing I have been despondent. I did not know him that well. I had met him at a few conferences. We had a couple of e-mail and telephone conversations. But given the tightly networked world of the Black Left, there was less than six degrees of separation from deep connections.

I first met Manning in 1974, when I was on my way to work in a factory in Houston. Leaving Boston, I stopped by an area college to see a dear high school friend of mine who exclaimed that I had to meet �this brother who is into socialism�. That was Manning� and when our common friend died tragically early from multiple sclerosis, he was very supportive. My other deep connection comes from my closest friend who was very close to Manning. Through him, I had kept up with Manning�s health struggles and the progress on �the Book�. Early on, I had heard of the path-breaking scholarship about Malcolm. I pre-ordered the book and anxiously awaited seeing Manning talk about this work�

�but the sadness I felt was not just because of these connections (or the eerie feeling that came over me as I read the acknowledgements in Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, it was as if Manning was speaking to me from his grave). There was also the shared trajectory of a common cohort: we were comrades born in the early 50s, shaped by the mighty struggles of the early 60s, who went to school to develop weapons to free our people and emerged through praxis at an understanding that America�s racial dilemma could not be solved without addressing its underlying class dilemma.

One of the most important statements I read in honor of Manning came from Bill Fletcher in the Nation. Bill said �Manning was nothing short of obsessed with entering into mainstream discourses from the left.� In this current period - with corporate-led globalization undermining the lives of the majority of people throughout the world; with the elements of the elite using the resulting insecurity to unleash mass forces that are authoritarian and/or racist; with the relative weakness of progressives within the Black community and throughout the larger community; and with popular confusion over the nature of the current racial regime - understanding Manning�s obsession is so very important.

We can�t be content with being �correct� about neo-liberalism and the new racial regime while we have minimal links to the various networks - formal and informal - that comprise our community. At the same time, we can�t be content with submerging our critique of the world in the name of gathering a mass following. We truly must enter �mainstream discourses from the left�.

Without following this lesson from Manning, victories will be delayed and dreams will be deferred�and the cost to our people will be too high.

Click here to send a message of condolence to the Marable family. Editorial Board Member, Steven Pitts, PhD, is a Labor Policy Specialist at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Click here to contact Dr. Pitts.

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Apr 7, 2011 - Issue 421
is published every Thursday
Est. April 5, 2002
Executive Editor:
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