BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board member, Dr. Rose M. Brewer, PhD sent me the following note about the death of Manning Marable:
Manning Marable told me that one question he was asked often was “How do you write so much?” He said the answer was simple “In order to write, you have to sit down and do it”. I learned that Manning did not use a computer or a typewriter to write. He wrote everything with a pen on paper. He laughed when I told him he was in the “digital divide”.
I never saw the glint in Manning’s eye in person. However, I saw it many times in videos of his speeches and lectures that are available on the Internet. One of my favorite examples of the fire in Manning’s soul is a speech he gave at the Green Party convention of 2000, which you can watch in this issue of BC. Unfortunately, this speech holds up well over ten years later because very little has changed.
The Manning Marable I want to talk about here is the person I grew to know as someone of immense personal courage.
We had never spoken when I approached him about becoming a member of the BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board, back in the fall of 2006. At that time, he had been suffering from sarcoidosis in his lungs for about 15 years. However, in our conversation that ranged over a number of topics, Manning never mentioned it.
In each of our conversations, I heard the voice of an optimistic, positive person who believed change was possible in the fight for economic justice, social justice and peace, as long as we kept working at it. Then, one day when I phoned to request an interview, I found him short of breath. It was then that he explained to me that he could not do any interviews because of the sarcoidosis and that he needed a double lung transplant in order to keep living. I was stunned.
Like many of us, I have known a number of people who have faced life-threatening illnesses; only a few do so without letting it get them down. Manning was one of them. He always put the work first. He was determined to finish his book on Malcolm, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.
In the summer of 2009, he revealed that he was on a transplant list to receive two new lungs, and in July of 2010, he received them. However, prior to the operation he went through the experience of five dry runs to the hospital. Five times, he was notified that a donor with matching blood and tissue had made their lungs available. He rushed to the hospital and was prepared for surgery, right up to the point of receiving anesthesia, only to be told that the lungs from the donor were not adequate. Five times, over a period of almost one year, he went through this incredibly challenging experience. In between the dry runs, he remained the same enthusiastic, positive person.
After the transplant operation, he faced the challenge of physical therapy. I remember calling him one time when his therapist was pushing him especially hard and he was so out of breath he could barely speak. I asked him why he answered the phone and he quipped, “because I needed a break” and we both laughed.
He recovered from the surgery and sounded like his old self. He had finished the Malcolm book and was excited about its publication. The last time we spoke was shortly before a fatal combination of pneumonia and two heart attacks took his life. Before he was struck down, his voice and will were strong and he was looking forward to the next battle.
Malcolm X once urged us to remain angry, militant and impatient. I believe having principles in which you believe enough to struggle for them on a daily basis is the key to providing the positive energy required to be a revolutionary. The world would be a better place if we could all wake each day as I believe Manning did, feeling at least a little angry, militant and impatient.
I will miss Manning. He is one of the most courageous people I have ever known.
Click here to send a message of condolence to the Marable family.
BlackCommentator.com Publisher and Chief Technical Officer Peter Gamble, is the recipient of a national Sigma Delta Chi award for public service in journalism and numerous other honors for excellence in reporting and investigative reporting. The “beats” he covered as a broadcast journalist ranged from activism in the streets to the State Department and White House. The lure of a personal computer on his desk inspired a career change in 1985 and an immersion into what he saw as the future of communications. The acquisition of computer programming skills made it possible for Peter to achieve an important level of self-reliance in the technology of the 21st century and to develop BlackCommentator.com. Click here to contact Peter.