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A new biography has spurred the long-running debate over Malcolm X’s life and legacy. Ta-Nehisi Coates explains how widely the public image of Malcolm X varied: Some saw him as a hate-filled bigot who came to see the kinship of all mankind through religion. Others saw him as a self-redeemer, a former player who became an exemplar of black chivalry. And there were some who thought him an avatar of collective revenge, a gangster who changed his targets but not his ways.
We speak with Coates, who offers a personal take on Malcolm X, tracing the man’s place in his life by where he keeps his giant poster of Malcolm X. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic magazine, and author of the memoir, “The Beautiful Struggle.”