Journalist Les Payne thought he knew everything there was to know about Malcolm X. When he realized he was wrong, he devoted 30 years of his life to telling his story.
Malcolm X is a towering cultural figure. Movies have been made about him, books have been written, and he’s been mythologized since his assassination in 1965. But an encounter at a cocktail party in Detroit led journalist Les Payne to realize how much more there was to understand about the man.
Les Payne spent the last three decades of his life learning everything he could about Malcolm X. The result is The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, a new book that sheds light on the people, places, and experiences that shaped Malcolm X into the man he’d become. Late last month, The Dead Are Arising won a 2020 National Book Award for nonfiction.
It’s praise that Les Payne would not live to hear. Payne died in 2018 while still working to put the final touches on his book. So his daughter, Tamara Payne, who had been a researcher with him from the start of the project, finished the work.
On this episode of Into America, Trymaine Lee sits down with Tamara and her mother, Violet Payne, to talk about Les Payne, their family’s love for Malcolm X, and the legacies of these two men.
For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica.