In late April 1962 Los Angeles police shot and killed an unarmed black man, Ronald X Stokes, during a disturbance outside
a Nation of Islam temple. Malcolm X, then the second most powerful figure in the NOI, rushed to the city. At a rally he told protesters: ‘You’re brutalised because you’re black, and when they lay a club on the side of your head, they do not ask your religion. You’re black, that’s enough.’ Sound familiar?
The Dead Are Arising, a new biography of Malcolm X, is timely. But perhaps this sobering book’s clearest message is that it will always be timely, because the story it narrates is timeless. In 1964 it would be Harlem, in 1965 Watts, in 1967 Detroit. Today, it’s Minneapolis and Louisville.