The Harry Belafonte Black Liberation Speaker Series: Malcolm X, the Facts and the Fictions

Mon. Oct 26, 2020 8:00pm - 9:00pm EDT
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Event Description

Discover The Dead Are Arising, the monumental new biography of Malcolm X 30 years in the making and now a finalist for a National Book Award.


  • Tamara Payne, researcher and editor, The Dead Are Arising

  • Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, Pastor, the Abyssinian Baptist Church

The Dead Are Arising Book Cover

In 1990, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist Les Payne embarked on what would become a near-30-year quest to reconstruct the life and death of Malcolm X. He spoke to all the living siblings of the Malcolm Little family, as well as classmates, friends, cellmates, members of the Nation of Islam, FBI moles, cops, and political leaders around the world. The result, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, is an epic biography that rewrites much of the known narrative, conjuring a never-before-seen world of its protagonist from his birth in Nebraska in 1925 to his assassination in New York in 1965.

Les Payne passed away in 2018, before he could finish the book. His daughter and lead researcher, Tamara Payne, heroically completed it. Joined by other members of the Payne family, she will speak with Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, Pastor of The Abyssinian Baptist Church, about her father's life and work, and his book that reaffirms the centrality of Malcolm X in American political life.

This event is produced in partnership with The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

The Harry Belafonte Black Liberation Speaker Series is made possible thanks to support from Kenneth Cole.

LIVE from NYPL is made possible by the support of Library patrons and friends, as well as by the continuing generosity of Celeste Bartos, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Public Education Endowment Fund.

 Tamara Payne
is the co-author of The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, written with her father, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Les Payne. Tamara was the principal researcher for her father (while working in commercial real estate). After Les Payne's sudden passing in 2018, Tamara made it her purpose to finish his life's work. The Dead Are Arising has been selected as a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award.

Violet S. Payne is the widow of the late Les Payne and mother of Tamara Payne, authors of the book, The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, published by Liveright. With a BA in Mathematics and Chemistry from the University of Texas at El Paso and an MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, Mrs. Payne pursued a career in Healthcare Administration for over 30 years at Stony Brook University, of the State University of New York system, after working several years in financial management in the Aerospace/Defense industry. Born into a United States military family, Mrs. Payne developed an early fondness for foreign travel when her father was stationed in Italy. Over the years, she has journeyed to Kenya, Italy, France, Turkey, South Africa, Russia, Senegal, Taiwan, Spain, Zimbabwe, China, Canada, Ghana, Ethiopia, Argentina, and Antarctica. Social and community activities include the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Long Island Chapter and Eastern Shore (NY) Chapter, The Links, Incorporated. Mrs. Payne and her late husband, Les Payne, have lived in Huntington, NY, for over 49 years, recently spending time at their brownstone in Manhattan. They are proud parents of three adult children, Tamara, Jamal, and Haile. They are members of The Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City. The love collecting art and enjoy the pursuit of acquiring works of art that depict people's experience in the Black Diaspora.

 Rev. Calvin O. Butts III is Pastor of The Abyssinian Baptist Church in the City of New York, and President of the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Old Westbury. In 1989 Rev. Butts was one of the founders, and is the current Chairman of the Abyssinian Development Corporation, a community-based nonprofit responsible for over $600 million in housing and commercial development in Harlem. He was also instrumental in establishing the Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change—a public, state-of-the-art, intermediate and high school in Harlem—and the Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School. Dr. Butts is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), as well as a Board member of New Visions for Public Schools. He also served as Chairman of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBCLA). Previously, Rev. Butts served as President of Africare, as well as President of the Council of Churches of the City of New York. He served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of United Way of New York City, and Chairman of the Board of the Harlem YMCA. 

Les Payne 
(1941-2018), born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist and a former editor at Newsday. A founder of the National Association of  Black Journalists, Payne also wrote an award-winning syndicated column. 

If you have a NYPL library card—or live in New York state and want to apply for one now—you can borrow The Dead Are Arising for free with our e-reader app SimplyE, available for iOS and Android devices. 

Readers everywhere who wish to purchase copies of The Dead Are Arising can do so at The Schomburg Shop. Proceeds benefit the New York Public Library. 

The Schomburg Center holds the papers of Malcolm X. The collection includes personal and family memorabilia, correspondence, and organizational papers. 

This program will be streamed on Zoom and simulcast to YouTube. You must register with your email address in order to receive the link to participate. Please check your email shortly before the discussion to receive the link. Captions for this event will be provided. 

Please send all press inquiries (photo, video, interviews, audio-recording, etc.) at least 24-hours before the day of the program to Sara Beth Joren at

For all other questions and inquiries, please contact

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