Weekly Roundup 4/4/2011

On Eve of Redefining Malcolm X, Biographer Dies
Larry Rohter, The New York Times, April 1, 2011

Synopsis: Manning Marable, a Columbia University professor and leading scholar in the field of African American studies, died March 31 on the eve of the publication of his magnum opus: a new, and redefining, biography of Malcolm X, the black nationalist leader of the 1960s. “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” depicts him not as “a figure of unswerving moral certitude,” according to the Times’ summary, but as “a man often subject to doubts about theology, politics and other matters.” Marable also discloses evidence that New York City police were aware of assassination threats against Malcolm but did little to investigate them.

Takeaway: “This book gives us a richer, more profound, more complicated and more fully fleshed out Malcolm than we have ever had before,” said Michael Eric Dyson, author of the previous biography “Making Malcolm: The Myth and Meaning of Malcolm X.”

-Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor

NYTimes.com's Plan To Charge People Money For Consuming Goods, Services Called Bold Business Move
The Onion, March 28, 2011

Synopsis: The lampooning newspaper The Onion weighs in on the audacity of hope exhibited by The New York Times in instituting its new plan to charge readers for its content.

Takeaway: "To ask NYTimes.com's 33 million unique monthly visitors to switch to a cash-for-manufactured-goods-based model from the standard everything-online-should-be-free-for-reasons-nobody-can-really-explain-based model is pretty fearless. It's almost as if The New York Times is equating itself with a business trying to function in a capitalistic society,” snark the satirists.

-Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer

The Shrug That Made History: How slavery really ended in America
Adam Goodheart, The New York Times Magazine, April 3, 2011

Synopsis: OMG! What an incredible account of such a key aspect of American history – and one I knew much less about than I thought. Here’s how this fascinating story begins: “On May 23, 1861, little more than a month into the Civil War, three young black men rowed across the James River in Virginia and claimed asylum in a Union-held citadel, Fort Monroe, Va.” In the weeks ahead, hundreds of slaves followed, and the fort’s commanding general made the fateful decision to let them stay. The reviewer equates what happened with Rosa Parks’ refusal to sit at the back of a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala. “Earthshaking events are sometimes set in motion by small decisions,” author Adam Goodheart writes.

Takeaway: This is, essentially, the untold story of the birth of emancipation. I promise, you won’t put it down.

-Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor