Muhammad Ali was one of the Greatest human beings to ever grace the planet with his presence. From his undisputed status as the Greatest boxer of all time to the integrity he displayed in refusing to go to Vietnam, while his people were still being persecuted in the US – there has simply been no man that has lived a more admirable Life.
In this era of bluster and 24-7 coverage of people with no discernible talents, who brag but don’t deliver, it is hard to describe what Muhammad meant to us as kids. This was the 60’s and 70’s, when Black folks were navigating their newly earned civil rights. These were the decades of Black Panthers, Funk, Black Power and Black exploitation flicks. The strength and braggadocio that Muhammad displayed was a bursting forth of pride by a Black man that would have been unfathomable just ten years earlier. His declaration that he was “the Greatest” was not just a personal boast, it was a boost for every African-American, a recognition that, yes indeed, we were (and are) a great and mighty people. Ali embodied everything that it meant to be in the words of his great contemporary, Nina Simone, “young, gifted, and Black.”
I have Loved Muhammad Ali all my Life and he is the standard bearer by which we all should live our Lives. It is my greatest regret that I never got to meet him. But I will seek his energy in the afterlife.