I first encountered the work of the radical intellectual Manning Marable in the mid-1970s when he was sending out his self-syndicated newspaper column (for free) to alternative newspaper editors and publishers. Those columns were always deep, thought-provoking and erudite. Marable is now Professor of Public Affairs, History and African-American Studies at Columbia University, is writing a book about Malcolm X and is chair of the Movement for a Democratic Society, the non-profit arm of the revivified Students for a Democratic Society, having always combined activism with his prolific scholarship. I’ve always admired him for his calm but principled approach to progressive politics, an approach that analyzes without blinders. My favorite book of his is W.E.B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat.
He endorsed Barack Obama in January. Like many of us left-progressives, he is glad of Obama’s victory and cautiously optimistic about the chances that his administration will truly transform politics in America. But he is clear-eyed about it and knows full well the many pitfalls that lie ahead. Today he was a guest on Democracy Now. Here are some excerpts from his interview: