When Manning Marable’s controversial book “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” came out April 4, 2011, he wasn’t there to see it on bookshelves having died just three days before its release. His non-fiction book documenting public and private events in the Black nationalist’s life was a huge topic of discussion—especially since it questioned Malcolm’s sexuality and criminal past.

A year later, the Columbia University professor has won the Pulitzer Prize for history. Marable took decades to go beyond history books to find a fresh account of the civil rights leader. Although his provocative perspective of Malcolm X was challenged by many, his prestigious award is undebatable.