A Fiery Debate on New Malcolm X Biography: Amira Baraka v. Michael Eric Dyson (Video)

On what would have been the 86th birthday of Malcolm X, Democracy Now! hosts a roundtable discussion about Dr. Manning Marable's controversial new biography, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. Dr. Marable used material for his book that was recently made available, thus providing a new insight into the famed civil rights leader. His biography, however, has also refueled the debate on many controversial aspects of Malcolm X's life and interpretation of his politics and legacy.

Only minutes into the discussion, Amiri Baraka and Michael Eric Dyson spared off about Manning's research on the life of Malcolm X and conclusions about the political legacy of the famed civil rights leader.

Here is an excerpt of what Amiri Baraka, an acclaimed poet, playwright, music historian and activist based in Newark, NJ, had to say:

"Well, we should understand the impact that Malcolm had on the whole of American society. I think that the one problem I have with Marable's book is Marable never understands that the black liberation movement had the most impact on American society -- not the CP, not the DSA, not any of these social democratic groups, but the black liberation movement had," Baraka says. "And it wasn't -- if it wasn't for the black liberation movement and people like Malcolm, people like Martin Luther King, people like Rosa Parks, there wouldn't be an Obama. You know, that's the fruit of that struggle."

Here is a clip of part of the response to Baraka's comments by Michael Eric Dyson, Georgetown University professor and author of the book, Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X:

"You're impugning," Dyson responded to Baraka, "you're indicting Manning Marable for not understanding the flow of black nationalism. And I'm saying, if that's the case -- he talked about pan-Africanist identity, talked about Malcolm X's engagement, his influence by Garvey, his understanding that, like King, that you want to talk about the liberation of black people. I'm saying, when you make the charge that Manning Marable doesn't fundamentally understand that the liberation of black people is at the heart of the project of making America what it is, I think that's contradicted by every one of Manning Marable's books, where he makes that argument brilliantly."

Also included in the discussion was Herb Boyd, a Harlem-based activist, teacher and author who edits the online publication, The Black World Today. Here is an excerpt of what he had to say:

"And 1964, as far as I'm concerned, is the most important year of Malcolm's life. Spike Lee did not get a chance to deal with that constructively and exhaustively in his film. Manning had access to this diary. He could go day by day," Boyd says. "I had a chance to see that same diary at the Schomburg. And I think that's probably the most interesting and enlightening aspect of that book. You can follow Malcolm's--these two trips that he made to Africa. 1964 was extremely important in terms of his political development and his connection, you know, to the whole geopolitical situation, the third world."