THE DEAD Are Arising by Pulitzer prize-winner Les Payne and Tamara Payne is the culmination of nearly 30 years of exhaustive research.
Les Payne was able to record hundreds of hours of interviews with Malcolm’s then still-living immediate family and contemporaries.
Those interviews have not seen the light of day—until now.
In a monumental biography giving new meaning to our understanding of Malcolm X and his ever-expanding impact on American history, The Dead Are Arising expands our understanding of Malcolm X’s life and contextualizes it, not only within the Nation of Islam, but within the larger arc of African American history.
In doing so, the book provides readers and future scholars with what is likely to be the last, exhaustive first-hand recollections of Malcolm X we are ever to see.
Talking to the Voice online Tamara Payne makes no apologies for the length of the book admitting however her father would have like it to have been shorter.
Les Payne, who died in March 2018 as he delivered the manuscript, first witnessed Malcolm X’s galvanizing oratory when attending a rally in 1963.
As he went on to an illustrious newspaper career—principally at Newsday, where he won the Pulitzer—and helped found the National Association of Black Journalists, Payne’s experience of hearing Malcolm X speak never abandoned him.
Aware that time was running out to record the shrinking inner circle of people who knew Malcolm throughout his life, Payne was able to document their stories and observations for posterity.
The result is a groundbreaking addition to all previous Malcolm biographies, including Alex Haley’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X and Manning Marable’s Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.
With access to such important figures as Malcolm’s siblings, classmates, former ministers of the Nation of Islam, collaborators, street buddies (including one of those who served as a model for the composite “Shorty”), and even the men falsely imprisoned for his murder, Payne presents a deeply nuanced and unprecedented portrait of how East Lansing Red gave way to Detroit Red and ultimately begat the icon, X.
Here is Malcolm Little in his formative years.
His father, an activist follower of Marcus Garvey, was run over by a streetcar in 1931 (though the insurance company evaded payment by claiming it was a suicide); his equally forceful mother, widowed and penniless was determined to hold together her family during the Depression before succumbing to mental illness.
The Dead Are Arising is revelatory on the milestones in Malcolm’s life we thought we knew: the years in Boston and Harlem as drug dealer, pimp and burglar; the religious awakening and conversion in a Massachusetts penitentiary; the bizarre 1961 “summit” with the KKK; and the final minutes leading up to his assassination in the Audubon Ballroom.
Completed by his daughter, Tamara (who also served as a researcher for the entire project), and told in riveting prose, The Dead Are Arising is a major accomplishment that could set the bar for how we will define Malcolm X from now on.
Check out the full interview with Tamara Payne below: