Bristol Festival of Ideas: Who Was Malcolm X? The Memories of Family and Friends

Bristol Festival of Ideas: Who Was Malcolm X? The Memories of Family and Friends


Tamara Payne talks about the revelatory, award-winning new biography of Malcolm X that she co-authored with her father, the Pulitzer-Prize winning investigative journalist Les Payne.

As a young man in 1963, Les Payne heard Malcolm X’s rousing oratory first-hand at a public rally. He never forgot that experience.

Aware that time was running out and that invaluable insights might soon be lost, Payne began recording what would build into hundreds of hours of interviews with Malcolm’s immediate family and contemporaries. These included siblings, classmates, former ministers of the Nation of Islam, collaborators, street buddies and even the men falsely imprisoned for his murder.

Tamara Payne had been the principal researcher on the project and she completed the manuscript after her father’s death in 2018. The Dead Are Arising is the culmination of nearly 30 years of exhaustive collaborative work.

This unprecedented portrait – which won the 2020 National Book Award for Nonfiction – gives new meaning to our understanding of Malcolm X’s impact on American history, contextualising his life within the larger arc of African American history. It is a ground-breaking addition to previous biographies, including Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and likely to be the last collection of first-hand recollections of the man we will ever see.

Barack Obama said about Malcolm X: ‘His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me; the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in its discipline, forged through sheer force of will.’ What can we learn from Malcolm X today?

6.00pm - 6.45pm

£0 - £8

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