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Making Malcolm


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About the Author

Michael Eric Dyson is an ordained Baptist minister and Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of the widely acclaimed Reflecting Black: African-American Cultural Criticism, and the forthcoming Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture.


YA‘In the first section of this scholarly discourse, Dyson analyzes a selective group of writings by and about Malcolm X, discussing various interpretations of events, Malcolm's evolving philosophy, and its perceived place in today's world. The larger, second section is an attempt to place Malcolm into historical context by comparing him to Martin Luther King, Jr., and to figures such as Louis Farrakhan, and to interpret his strong influence on young African American males through films and music. The author shows in thorough and definitive detail just how important Malcolm is to disenfranchised youth. Unfortunately, his writing style is pompous and repetitive, and the vocabulary is difficult. In addition, there are times when his personal viewpoints and experiences intrude upon and interrupt the flow of his narrative. However, if students are willing to put forth the effort, they will find some interesting perspectives and creative analyses of a powerful cultural icon of the 20th century.‘Pat Royal, Crossland High School, Camp Springs, MD

"Michael Eric Dyson is emerging as a young and powerful Black intellectual who is giving strong voice and clear perspective to the African experience in America....Such a flame can light the way for a new generation of resisters and freedom fighters."--Rev. Jesse L. Jackson "An imaginative and at times impressive effort to explain why Malcolm X is a legitimate African American hero and yet to show that there is a tendency in too many of the writings on African Americans to depict him as infallible and his speeches and writings as sacred texts."--The Journal of American History "This book could be a good source for meaningful discussion about an important black figure whose influence is still being felt, despite his death in 1965."--KLIATT, July 1996 "Dyson cuts a critical swathe through both the idolization and the vicious caricatures that have undermined appreciation of Malcolm's greatest accomplishments....A rare and Important book, Making Malcolm casts a new light not only on the life and career of a seminal Black leader, but on the aspirations and passions of the growing numbers who have seized on his life for insight and inspiration."--National Black Employment Directory "Dyson beautifully demonstrates the inevitable futility that awaits those who try to pigeonhole Malcolm or claim him for any particular group. What emerges is an honest, serious, and objective scholarly attempt to understand Malcolm's thought."--African-Americans for Humanism EXAMINER "A dead leader's image is often appropriated by both critics and followers for their own purposes. This collection of essays shows to what extent Malcolm X has suffered this fate and argues that we was a much more complex man than many believe: compassionate as well as militant, self-critical as well as hard-headed."--The New York Times Book Review New & Noteworthy Paperbacks "Michael Dyson's Making Malcolm is the most sophisticated and accessible analysis of Malcolm we have."--Cornel West, author of Race Matters "Making Malcolm is an important work precisely because of Dyson's uncompromisingly critical approach to Malcolm's life and work, to his scholarly interpreters, and to the ideological work his legacy performs vis-a-vis Black popular culture. Dyson's fearless, lucid, and smooth-flowing style renders his complex analyses wonderfully accessible....Especially striking is his ability to render a sensitive and informed analysis of the contemporary crisis of African American men while simultaneously offering a subtle yet unyielding critique of the misogyny and homophobia that often go unchallenged by scholarly and popular readings of Malcolm....This book is sure to be a turning point for future discourse on Malcolm X."--Angela Y. Davis, Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz "Michael Eric Dyson is emerging as a young and powerful Black intellectual who is giving strong voice and clear perspective to the African experience in America. In his new book, Making Malcom, Dyson shows us a Malcolm X for our time; a man who, above all else, sought truth and justice for his people. Such a flame can light the way for a new generation of resisters and freedom fighters."--Rev. Jesse L. Jackson "With the situation getting more hectic, the real troopers come far and few. And with misinformation spreading, it is a necessity to follow Michael Eric Dyson. He's a bad brother. Check out his new book Making Malcolm by all means."--Chuck D. of Public Enemy "Michael Eric Dyson reflects the thinking of a new generation of American scholars of African descent. His insights and analyses of the Malcolm X phenomenon are extraordinary and instructive to all who seek to understand both the history and future of race and intergroup relations in the United States. I highly recommend this compelling book."--Senator Carol Moseley-Braun "Malcolm X is the thread that stitches together these eloquent, freewheeling essays on hip-hop culture, black films and the tragic lives of poor black men."--New York Times Book Review- Notable Books of the Year 1994 "The essays... intrigue and illuminate."--New York Times Book Review "An intriguing essay..."--Kirkus Reviews "[A] valuable meditation on Malcolm's cultural significance..."--Washington Post Book World " a rarity in publishing, an academic with a lively writing style....Making Malcolm delivers a powerful summation of why Malcolm means so much to so many. Dyson separates the man from his myth and allows us to see both much more clearly."--The Milwaukee Journal "[Dyson's] essays are inventive, often freewheeling displays of scholarly erudition and passionate exegesis....His exuberance and sheer pleasure in the act of analysis itself sustains his momentum."--Tikkun "[This] engaging, well-written book is destined to become a standard text in what to date is a dissapointingly short trade bibliography."--National Journal "The University of North Carolina professor's essays have fans, not only because he brings a fresh edge to discussions, but because of his mix of styles and language."--Black Conscience Syndication "[A] thoughtful, scholarly essay."--Publishers Weekly "Dyson's work does a very fine job of introducing students to the basic concerns that attend the ongoing struggle over the representation of African-American iconic figures of social possibility."--Maurice E. Stevens, University of California at Santa Cruz

Dyson sees Malcolm X as a symbol of the self-discipline, self-esteem and moral leadership necessary to combat the spiritual and economic corruption of poor African American communities. This thoughtful, scholarly essay on the charismatic political leader, assassinated in 1965, scrutinizes his reemergence as a cultural hero. Dyson, a Baptist minister and professor of communications at the University of North Carolina, calls for a new progressive black politics anchored in radical democracy, redistribution of wealth through taxation and restructuring of opportunities for the neediest. The legacy of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. to progressive blacks, he maintains, is the imagination and energy to build bridges with Latinos, gays, feminists, environmental activists and others seeking equality and economic democracy. Calling the Malcolm portrayed in Spike Lee's recent film ``a potent and valuable figure,'' Dyson nevertheless faults Lee for leaving largely untouched Malcolm's broadening of his ideological perspective in his final years. (Nov.)

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