“Muhammad Ali watches as the flame climbs up to the Olympic torch during the
opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics Friday, July 19, 1996, in Atlanta.”
Photo: AP Photo/Doug Mills, in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Growing-up in Louisville, KY. in the 1960’s, there is not one person in town that did not know the name Cassius Clay and later when he charge his name to Muhammad Ali. Whatever anyone thought of this man, he served as an icon to me in standing tall for his own truth, amidst a conservative “white” establishment fighting to preserve the last vestiges of segregation. He helped to the pull the curtain back then on this country’s hypocrisy in sending black men off to fight a war in Vietnam while still being persecuted here at home for their skin color. THAT WAS HUGE AT THAT TIME! Ali threw his Olympic Gold Metal into the Ohio River from Louisville’s shore in protest of such duplicity.
In 1974, ABC news sports journalist Howard Cosell stood-up for Ali saying, “They wanted… another Joe Louis. A white man’s black man… Didn’t these idiots realize that Cassius Clay was the name of a slave owner?…Had I been black and my name Cassius Clay, I damned well would have changed it!”
Ali was known as the Louisville Lip and loved to talk, especially about himself. Yet while standing alone on his own two feet, Ali’s battles for social justice and equality were in juxtaposition with great figures of change at that time such as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Robert F. Kennedy. Ali carried-on after their murders and continued to journey the globe delivering his message in championing the world to look beyond people’s flaws, rather to see that spirit triumphs over all.
Nowhere was this more visible than in his commanding 1996 lighting of the Olympic flame in Atlanta, visibly shaking by the ravages of Parkinson’s disease, he stood tall as an iconic figure of such immeasurable courage. His last public interview in 1996 with CBS News veteran Ed Bradley for 60 MINUTES remains as a testament to “The Greatest” who shined his light wherever he went, even in a simple action with no words. Click here for that interview.
In a 2012 Facebook post, Ali said about his legacy:
“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him … who stood up for his beliefs … who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love.”
“And if all that’s too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was.”
Mohammad Ali’s funeral will be in his hometown Friday afternoon [June 10] at Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center. Eulogies will be given by former President Clinton, Billy Crystal and Bryant Gumbel.
Ali: You shined your light and taught the world new ways to dream and how to dream big!
The world is a better place because you were here and in this era. R. I. P.
– “Muhammad Ali’s Hometown of Louisville Pays Tribute to the Boxing Legend”
“Muhammad Ali‘s birthplace of Louisville, Kentucky, is paying tribute Saturday to the late boxing legend, who died Friday in Arizona at 74.
At a ceremony at the city’s Metro Hall, Mayor Greg Fischer said flags on government buildings would remain at half-staff until Ali has been laid to rest.”
“Louisville is also home to the The Muhammad Ali Center, a museum and cultural center built as a tribute to the champion boxer [where the community gathered this morning at 10am to remembering Ali.],” by David Caplan and Charli James, ABC News.
– UPDATE: June 5, 2016
“Bees show up next to ‘Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee’ mural”
“A swarm of bees showed up Sunday morning [June 5] in a tree next to the “Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee” mural across from the Muhammad Ali Center.
‘The irony is not lost on me at all,’ [beekeeper Kevin] McKinney said.
“The bees showed up days after Ali’s death. It’s in viewing distance of a growing memorial and right next to one of his quotes,” form WLKY-TV (CBS) News, Louisville.
– “Muhammad Ali’s body arrives in Louisville”
“The 737 transporting Muhammad Ali’s body arrived at Louisville International Airport on Sunday [June 5] afternoon.”
Photo credit: Air 3/WAVE 3 TV News (NBC), Louisville
Cassius Clay, Jr. first flew from Louisville with the predecessor to today’s Eastern Airlines in 1960 to train and box in Miami Beach, so very ironic Muhammed Ali’s body returns on the airline of the same name he flew when he first left his hometown.
Sandra Russell (of Birmingham), Muhammad Ali, Elaine Klein.
Louisville, KY., They’re Off!® Luncheon, circa 1977.
– UPDATE: June 7, 2016
“Continues to Rise: Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)
Lewis R. Gordon, Viewpoint Magazine.