New York (CNN) -- Dr Manning Marable, director of Columbia University's Center for Contemporary Black History has died, according to a statement from the NAACP. He was 61.
The statement did not give a cause of the Friday death.
"Dr. Marable's contributions to the struggle for freedom of African Americans will never be forgotten," stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.
"Dr. Marable brought one of the keenest intellects of our age to the contemporary conversation on race in America," Jealous said.
Born in 1950, Dr Marable was a professor at Cornell, Fisk, Colgate, Ohio State and Colorado universities before founding the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia in 1993, according to the website for the Columbia center, CCBH.
This center went on to become one of the nation's most prestigious centers on African-American Study, the website said.
A prolific author, Dr Marable wrote some 200 articles and 20 books, though many have said his forthcoming 594-page book, ""Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,"" is one of his life's great achievements.
"So much that has been written and portrayed on Malcolm X has been a series of iconic, misleading images," Dr Marable told CNN in 2003. "He's been expropriated by everybody from the hip-hop generation to the U.S. Postal Service."
"Let's now document the true meaning of Malcolm through his own words," Dr Marable said.
A public memorial service is planned for May 27 by his wife, three children and two stepchildren, according to the NAACP release.