New Malcolm X Book Stirs Controversy

Apr 8, 2011, 09:40 by Danielle Bodnar

The new Malcolm X book, which alleges that Malcolm X engaged in extramarital affairs, including homosexual ones, has brought controversy with its release.

Two of Malcolm X's daughters expressed unhappiness with the biography. The book claims that the marriage between Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz was strained, and that both partners may have been unfaithful.

Daughter Ilyasah Shabazz said the marriage was "definitely faithful and devoted because my father was a man of impeccable integrity." She continued, "I think that most people, if they're not clear on anything, they're clear that he was moral and ethical and had impeccable character."

Both daughters admitted to never having read the book, which has made its way to the top 10 best-seller list on

Author Manning Marable worked on "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention" for two decades and died just before publication. Although Malcolm's daughters did not speak to Marable for the book, it does include countless other interviews, government documents and private papers.

Manning devoted much of his career to uncovering provocative new details about the life of Malcolm X, according to a report from NPR. The book claims that Malcolm X may have embellished his criminal past and engaged in a homosexual relationship. This has stirred controversy, criticism and praise for shedding new light on the historical figure.

Among Malcolm's personal papers was a letter to Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad where he discusses his wife's sexual frustrations and says she had threatened to "seek satisfaction elsewhere."

Other marital problems accounted for in the book included Malcolm's wish to have a subservient Muslim wife, and the fact that he was gone for extended periods of time, most of which threatened his life.

Daughter Malaak Shabazz said there "may have been a little bit of stress, like any marriage," but that "there was really no times for shenanigans. She raised the children at home; he worked on a global level."

The book also alleges that the FBI and NYPD were involved in the activist's assassination, doing nothing to prevent it, though they prior knowledge of an attempt. Marble's assertions derive from 6,000 pages of F.B.I. files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, records from the Central Intelligence Agency, State Department and the New York district attorney's office, as well as his interviews with members of Malcolm X's inner circle and security team.

Marable included his intentions in the introduction of the book, saying that he wanted to "pay tribute to the slain activist's life and influence" and avoid portraying him as "a saint without the normal contradictions and blemishes that all human beings have."