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The Aftermath Of Integration

1I recently had a conversation with a group of young people, none of which lived during the age of government segregation. Each had strongly convoluted opinions about the era that were not based in fact. This made me think about how much the current world view has changed the reality of black life, as it relates to a historical perspective.

First, white folk never wanted it and chatted go back to Africa at the time. It was never intended to be fair or equal! I am not suggesting that integration should not have happened, but it did have a negative impact on black life and the future of African Americans in many ways. Two prominent ways were in the areas of family and black business.

One thing that happened, for sure was that the black community stopped supporting the businesses in their own communities. After segregation, African Americans flocked to support businesses owned by whites and other groups, causing black restaurants, theaters, insurance companies, banks, etc. to almost disappear. Today, black people spend 95 percent of their income at white-owned businesses. Even though the number of black firms has grown 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007, they only make up 7 percent of all U.S firms and less than .005 percent of all U.S business receipts.

I took the opportunity to educate these young people that in 1865, just after Emancipation, 476,748 free blacks – 1.5 percent of U.S. population– owned .005 percent of the total wealth of the United States. Today, a full 135 years after the abolition of slavery, 44.5 million African Americans – 14.2 percent of the population — possess a meager 1 percent of the national wealth.

If we look at relationships from 1890 to 1950, black women married at higher rates than white women, despite a consistent shortage of black males due to their higher mortality rate. According to a report released by the Washington DC-based think tank the Urban Institute, the state of the African American family is worse today than it was in the 1960s, four years before President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act.

In 1965, only 8 percent of childbirths in the black community occurred out of wedlock. In 2010, out-of-wedlock childbirths in the black community are at an astonishing 72 percent. Researchers Heather Ross and Isabel Sawhill argue that the marital stability is directly related to the husband’s relative socio-economic standing and the size of the earnings difference between men and women.

Instead of focusing on maintaining black male employment to allow them to provide for their families, Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act with full affirmative action for women. The act benefited mostly white women and created a welfare system that encouraged the removal of the black male from the home. Many black men were also dislodged from their families and pushed into the rapidly expanding prison industrial complex that developed in the wake of rising unemployment.

Since integration, the unemployment rate of black men has been spiraling out of control. In 1954, white men had a zero percent unemployment rate, while African-American men experienced a 4 percent rate. By 2010, it was at 16.7 percent for Black men compared to 7.7 percent for white men. The workforce in 1954 was 79 percent African American. By 2011, that number had decreased to 57 percent. The number of employed black women, however, has increased. In 1954, 43 percent of African American women had jobs. By 2011, 54 percent of black women are job holders.

The Civil Rights Movement pushed for laws that would create a colorblind society, where people would not be restricted from access to education, jobs, voting, travel, public accommodations, or housing because of race. However, the legislation did nothing to eradicate white privilege. Michael K. Brown, professor of politics at University of California Santa Cruz, and co-author of“Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society” says in the U.S., “The color of one’s skin still determines success or failure, poverty or affluence, illness or health, prison or college.”

Two percent of all working African Americans work for another African American’s within their own neighborhood. Because of this, professionally trained Black people provide very little economic benefit to the black community. Whereas, prior to integration that number was significantly higher because of segregation people in the black community supported each other to sustain their lives and families.

The Black median household income is about 64 percent that of whites, while the Black median wealth is about 16 percent that of whites. Millions of Black children are being miseducated by people who don’t care about them, and they are unable to compete academically with their peers. At the same time, the criminal justice system has declared war on young Black men with policies such as “stop and frisk” and “three strikes.”

Marcus Garvey warned about this saying:

“Lagging behind in the van of civilization will not prove our higher abilities. Being subservient to the will and caprice of progressive races will not prove anything superior in us. Being satisfied to drink of the dregs from the cup of human progress will not demonstrate our fitness as a people to exist alongside of others, but when of our own initiative we strike out to build industries, governments, and ultimately empires, then and only then will we as a race prove to our Creator and to man in general that we are fit to survive and capable of shaping our own destiny.”

Maybe this proves that once past truths are forgotten, and the myths that are lies are born with an unfounded reality detrimental to all, but those who seek to benefit. As I have often said, “I firmly believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. We can change the world but first, we must change ourselves.” And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Twitter @JohnTWills

Source: Black Atlanta Star


Current Events: From The Perspective Of Dick Gregory

original_82693372Please listen to this message from the great and honorable Dick Gregory, Author, Comedian, Actor, and Activist, who shares inside secrets about recent events reported in the mainstream news media. Personally, I view Brother Gregory as a Griot, which is the historical description, of an elder, of the hereditary caste among the people of Africa. The primary function of a Griot is to keep information of the oral history for the tribes of African people, stolen, and now residing in this place the slaves called “merica”.

The profoundly knowledgeable Elder Dick Gregory talks about current events, including the possible cancellation of the upcoming election, speaks on Million Man March, Bill Cosby, and Obama’s Upcoming Third Term.

PLEASE LISTEN!!!


Essential African American Writers

imagesThough things have steadily improved a bit over the past few decades, the literary canon is still dominated by what’s commonly criticized as “dead white men.” Because of this phenomenon, the contributions of female and minority writers, philosophers, scholars and activists fall to the wayside — sometimes completely missing opportunities to pick up prestigious awards.

Readers from all backgrounds hoping to diversify their intake of novels, poetry, essays and speeches would do well to start here when looking for African-American perspectives. Trust and believe that there are far more than these 20 fantastic writers, but the ones listed here provide an amazing start to your literary empowerment.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014): This incredible Renaissance woman served as the American Poet Laureate, won several Grammy Awards, served the Civil Rights cause under the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., taught numerous classes and enjoyed a respectable performing arts career — all while never losing sight of her elegant poetry and prose. Her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings remains one of the most essential and inspiring examples of the genre, often finding its way onto syllabi across the nation. Like every other entry on this list, she’s more than an essential African-American writer — she’s an essential component of the literary canon, period.

James Baldwin (1924-1987): Writer, activist and expatriate James Baldwin fearlessly tackled challenging, controversial sexual and racial subject matter at a time when hate crimes and abuse against the African-Americans and members of the LGBTQIA community ran riot. The impact of religion, for better or for worse, amongst the two marginalized minorities comprises one of his major themes. Go Tell it on the Mountain, Baldwin’s sublime debut novel, pulled from his own life experiences and opened readers up to the realities those forced to the fringes of society must face on a daily basis — and how they find the strength to continue in spite of adversity.

Sterling Allen Brown (1901-1989): Folklore, jazz and Southern African-American culture greatly inspired the highly influential academic and poet. In 1984, Sterling Allen Brown received the distinguished position of Poet Laureate of the District of Colombia for his considerable contributions to education, literature and literary criticism — not to mention his mentorship of such notable figures as Toni Morrison, Ossie Davis, Stokely Carmichael and many more. Along with Langston Hughes and many others during the “Harlem Renaissance” (a term Brown considered a mere media label), he showed the world why poetry written in the African-American vernacular could be just as beautiful, effective as anything else written in any other language.

William Demby (1922-): In 2006, received a Lifetime Achievement recognition from the Saturday Review’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. He has only written four novels to date, with 1950s reflection on West Virginian race relations Beetlecreek garnering the most attention. These days, he works as a contributing editor for the nonprofit, bimonthly literary journal American Book Review after having retired from academia in 1989.

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895): Today, schoolchildren across America remember Frederick Douglass as one of the most inspiring voices in the pre-Civil War Abolitionist movement. Because of his autobiographies and essays — most famously, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, a Slave – readers fully understood the mortal and dehumanizing dangers found on slave plantations and farms. Following emancipation, Douglass continued working as a political activist and lecturer, traveling all over the world to discuss issues of slavery and equal rights.

Paul Laurence Dunbarr (1872-1906): Even those unfamiliar with the amazing Paul Laurence Dunbar’s writings still know of them tangentially — “I know why the caged bird sings,” the inspiration for Maya Angelou’s autobiography, comes from his poem “Sympathy.” Way before that, though, he earned a reputation as the first African-American poet to gain national renown, though his oeuvre stretched into novels, plays, librettos and more as well. Most literary critics and historians accept that the sublime 1896 piece “Ode to Ethiopia” the defining work that launched him to national acclaim, paving the way for later writers from a number of different marginalized communities to shine through.

Ralph Ellison (1914-1994): To this day, Invisible Man remains one of the most intense portraits of a marginalized community (American or not) ever printed. Writer, literary critic and academic Ralph Ellison bottled up the anger and frustration of African-Americans — specifically men — shoved to the fringes of society for no reason other than skin color, paying close attention to how they channeled such volatile emotions. Even beyond his magnum opus, he made a name for himself as an insightful scholar with a keen eye for analyzing and understanding all forms of literature, and he published numerous articles fans should definitely check out.

Bell Hooks (1952-): Gloria Watkins, better known by her pen name bell hooks, stands at the forefront of postmodern feminism. Thanks to her impressive activism work meaning to break down racial, gender and sexual barriers, she published some of the most essential works on the subjects — including the incredibly intelligent and insightful Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. Today, she continues to lecture, publish and teach classes that carry on her philosophies pushing towards a more equitable, harmonious society.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967): Regardless of whether or not one considers the Harlem Renaissance a broad media label or a legitimate literary movement (or somewhere in between), few argue that Langston Hughes emerged as one of the most essential American writers of the period. He worked in a wide range of styles, from plays to novels to essays to songs, but today’s audiences seem to know him from his poetry more than anything else. Though the short story collection The Ways of White Folks still garners plenty of attention for its sarcastic take on race relations in the early decades of the 20th Century.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960): Because Zora Neale Huston intently studied anthropology and folklore, her fictional characters crackle with nuance that becomes more apparent in subsequent readings. Her oeuvre stretches across four books, with Their Eyes Were Watching God easily the most recognized, and over 50 plays, short stories and essays — all of them considered some of the finest examples of Harlem Renaissance literature (not to mention American in general!). Interestingly enough, her conservative leanings placed her at odds with her more liberal contemporaries from the movement, most especially the heavily influential Langston Hughes.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968): The passion and backbreaking effort Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put into nonviolently protesting the state of African-Americans and other minorities needs no further introduction. His historical impact, still resonant and relevant today, came about through his eloquent, inspiring writings — largely speeches, essays and letters. “I Have a Dream” and “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” are essential readings for anyone interested in history, Civil Rights, politics, culture and even excellent persuasive nonfiction.

Toni Morrison (1931-): Among Toni Morrison’s litany of accomplishments sits two incredible awards — both the Pulitzer Prize (which she won for Beloved in 1988) and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Along with the aforementioned novel, The Bluest Eye and Song of Soloman have both received plenty of acclaim for their fearless approaches towards racial, sexual and economic divides. Today, she remains politically, educationally and creatively active, touring the world to receive some impressive, distinguished honors and promote the importance of literacy and equality.

Barack Obama (1961-): Though known more as a politician than a writer, America’s 44th president published the incredible memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance in 1995 — right at the very beginning of his political career. Such literary giants as Toni Morrison have praised Barack Obama’s writing style and very raw exploration of his biracial identity at a time when such things were not exactly embraced. Most of his writings these days center around politics, naturally, but the autobiography remains essential reading for anyone interested in American history, race relations and other similar topics.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Because of Sojourner Truth’s unyielding strength and integrity, both the abolitionist and women’s rights movements propelled forward and changed American history forever. Her writings bravely addressed some incredibly controversial subject matter, and she put her beliefs into practice with the Underground Railroad and the recruitment of Union soldiers. To this day, the haunting “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech remains her most celebrated, influential and inspiring work, encapsulating how frustrated and overlooked she felt as both an African-American and a female.

Alice Walker (1944-): The Color Purple rightfully earned Alice Walker both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award in 1983, and to this day it remains her most cherished and essential work. Inspired by the Civil Rights movement and professor Howard Zinn, she used the novel format to expound upon the double marginalization of African-American women, speaking frankly about tough racial and sexual issues. She wrote many other novels, short stories and essays tackling similar subject matter as her more famous book — any fans should certainly head towards her more “obscure” works for more in-depth explorations of such complex themes.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915): As with many other early African-American writers of note, impassioned activist and educator Booker T. Washington used his talents towards abolishing slavery and establishing equal rights. Though he butted heads with many other Civil Rights leaders of the time — most especially W.E.B. DuBois — his efforts certainly lay the foundation for Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and other leaders who rose to prominence in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Washington wrote 6 books in his lifetime, among many other formats, but his autobiography Up From Slavery earned him the honor of being the first African-American ever invited to the White House in 1901.

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784): In spite of her unfortunate slave status, this absolutely essential writer became the first African-American woman to see her lovely poems pushed to print. So impressed was the world at large by her lyrical prowess, she received special permission to travel abroad and meet influential English politicians and delegates — though she only attained freedom following her master’s death. Most of her poems revolved around historical figures, close friends, Classical ideas and images and Christian propriety rather than the plight of the enslaved and the female.

Harriet E. Wilson (1825-1900): Most historians and literary critics accept 1859’s Our Nig as the very first novel ever published by an African-American writer in the United States. Drawing from her own life story, Harriet E. Wilson used her pen to shed light on the true horrors of slavery, but unfortunately it fell from the public’s attention until Henry Louis Gates, Jr. rediscovered her talents and revealed her significance. Outside of her writing, she also garnered some degree of attention as a political activist, lecturer, trance reader and Spiritualist.

Richard Wright (1908-1960): Regardless of whether or not one picks up Richard Wright’s fiction or nonfiction, he or she will be treated with some oft-controversial observations on race relations in America prior to the Civil Rights movement. Black Boy is, by and large, probably his most popular work, regardless of format. Most of his works, like many other African-American writers of the time, revolved around promoting awareness of the marginalization they experienced because of restrictive laws and general antipathy from mainstream society.

Malcolm X (1925-1965): 1965’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X remains an incredibly essential read for anyone desiring to learn more about American history and the Civil Rights movement. Journalist Alex Haley interviewed and assisted the activist in compiling what became his only book, published with an addendum following his assassination. However, for a deeper glimpse into X’s beliefs, his relationship with the controversial Nation of Islam and his efforts to further the African-American cause, one must also pick up his published speeches as well.

READ!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

“Just a Season”

An Excerpt From The Novel “Just a Season”

1Just A Season is a stand-alone story rich in the history and will take you on an awe-inspiring journey through the African American Diaspora. A reviewer compared this novel to a contemporary “Roots” in the oral African tradition of a time when America was changing forever. Another reviewer said, this novel has the emotion of “The Color Purple”. I want to share this particular excerpt from “Just a Season” that I hope it will enlighten, empower, motivate, and touch your heart.

Today we live in a world where there is no Granddaddy to share that precious wisdom necessary to guide our young men and women into adulthood. I was fortunate, maybe blessed, to have had a loving grandfather who shared many valuable lessons with me.

These lessons learned became the foundation of my very being…

         “Granddaddy’s Lessons” from “Just a Season”

“Granddaddy would say if you really hear me, not just listen to me, you will inherit life’s goodness. I would hear him talk about things like “God bless the child that’s got his own.” He constantly reminded me that everything that ever existed came from a just single thought, and if you can think it, you can figure out how to do it just put your mind to it.

I would also constantly hear that a man must be able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done regardless of the circumstances. “I raised you to be a man and as a man, you don’t know what you will have to do, but when the time comes, do it.” Granddaddy drove home the point, the difference between a man and a boy is the lessons he’s learned.

Granddaddy would also say you will always have an enemy. Your enemy is anyone who attempts to sabotage the assignment God has for your life. Your enemy is anybody who may resent you doing positive things and will be unhappy because of your success. These people will attempt to kill the faith that God has breathed within you.

They would rather discuss your past than your future because they don’t want you to have one. Your enemy should not be feared. He would say it is important to understand that this person usually will be close to you. He would tell me to use them as bridges, not barricades. Therefore, it is wise to make peace with your enemy.

“Just remember these things I say to you.” I certainly could not count all of these things, as it seemed like a million or more that I was supposed to remember. However, he asked me to remember above all else that there is no such thing as luck. The harder you work at something the luckier you get. I would tell him that I was lucky, maybe because I had won a ballgame or something. He would smile and tell me luck is only preparation meeting opportunity. Life is all about survival and if you are to survive – never bring a knife to a gunfight. This would be just as foolish as using a shotgun to kill a mosquito. Then he asked me to remember that it is not the size of the dog in the fight; it is the size of the fight in the dog.

Granddaddy’s words had so much power, although it would often require some thinking on my part to figure out what he was talking about, or what the moral of the story was supposed to be. It may have taken awhile, but I usually figured it out. For example, always take the road less traveled, make your own path, but be sure to leave a trail for others to follow. Life’s road is often hard; just make sure you travel it wisely. If you have a thousand miles to go, you must start the journey with the first step. During many of these lessons, he would remind me not to let your worries get the best of you.

Sometimes he would use humor. For example, he would say something like “Moses started out as a basket case.” Although most often he assured me that hard times will come and when they come, do not drown in your tears; always swim in your blessings. He would tell me he had seen so much and heard even more, in particular, those stories from his early life when dreadful atrocities were done to Negroes. Some of the stories included acts of violence such as lynchings, burnings, and beatings. He would make a point to explain that the people who did these things believed they were acting in the best interest of society.

He would tell me about things he witnessed over time, that many of these atrocities were erased from the memory of society regardless how horrible the event was. Society’s reasoning would make you think their action was right, fair, and justified. Granddaddy would add, if history could erase that which he had witnessed and known to be true, how can you trust anything history told as truth? He would emphasize that I should never, never believe it because nothing is as it seems.

I would marvel at his wisdom. He would tell me to always set my aim higher than the ground. Shoot for the stars because if you miss you will only land on the ground and that will be where everybody else will be. When he would tell me this, he would always add, please remember you are not finished because you are defeated. You are only finished if you give up. He would usually include a reminder. Always remember who you are and where you came from. Never think you are too big because you can be on top of the world today, and the world can be on top of you tomorrow.

I think Granddaddy had the foresight to see that I could do common things in life in an uncommon way, that I could command the attention of the world around me. Granddaddy impressed upon me that change is a strange thing. Everyone talks about it, but no one ever tries to affect it. It will take courage and perseverance to reach your place of success. Just remember that life -is not a rehearsal. It is real, and it is you who will create your destiny don’t wait for it to come to you. He would say, can’t is not a word. Never use it because it implies failure. It is also smart to stay away from those who do use it.

He would tell me that I was an important creation, that God gave a special gift to me for the purpose of changing the world around me. It may be hard sometimes, you may not understand, you may have self-doubt or hesitation, but never quit. God gave it to you so use it wisely. He would add often times something biblical during his teaching, or so I thought, like to whom much is given, much is expected. It is because we needed you that God sent you. That statement profoundly gave me a sense of responsibility that I was duty-bound to carry throughout my life.

Granddaddy’s inspiration, courage, and motivation still humble me, and I’m filled with gratitude that his example profoundly enriched my soul. So much so that in those times of trouble, when the bridges are hard to cross and the road gets rough, I hear Granddaddy’s gentle voice reciting words once spoken by the Prophet Isaiah: “Fear not for I am with you.”

And that is a Thought Provoking Perspective from a loving Grandfather…

Praise for Just a Season

This Must Read Novel can be purchased @ AMAZON


America’s Shocking and Ugly Truth

 A picture is worth a thousand words.

2

Enough said, and that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Praise: A Must Read Five Star Novel

1Just a Season is a luminous story into the life of a man who, in the midst of pain and loss, journeys back in time to reexamine all the important people, circumstances, and intellectual fervor that contributed to the richness of his life. It is a must read novel that will cause you to see the world through new eyes.

This fictional narrative begins with a grief-stricken father visiting the grave-site of his beloved son who was killed in a tragic accident; a moment that he and no other loving parent should ever have to face. As he sadly gazes at his son’s headstone and reads what is inscribed there, the dates 1981 – 2001 bring about an illuminating discovery.

The tiny dash that separates the years of one’s birth and death represents the whole of a person’s life. If this tiny dash were to tell his life’s story, what would it say? In “Just a Season”, the dash of this man’s life is revealed and what emerges from the pages of this book is a legacy of true benevolence and grace. This is not a story you will read, it is a story that you will live as you travel in time through this man’s eyes as he vividly relives his legacy. It’s the journey of a lifetime that lives on…

      Praise for “JUST A SEASON”

“Thank you for your example of tenderness and discipline in what I know is a story of love, delicately shared with readers in a way that says, this life, though brief, is significant. So hold it in highest regard for “the dash” is our legacy to love ones, indeed to the world, which we are blessed to share, albeit, for Just a Season.” Excellent! Sistah Joy, Poet, Cable TV Host

“… You feel as if you somehow become an invisible character in the unfolding of this epic narration.” Silver Rae Fox, Actress, Model, Radio Personality

“… this is the stuff movies are made of… not since “Roots” have I read anything that so succinctly chronicles an African American story.” Amazing! Cheryl, Avid Reader

“Wills pulls you in from the very first page… Just a Season is a heart-wrenching story about growing up and believing in yourself.” Cheryl Hayes, APOOO Book Club

“Not since The Color Purple have I read a book that evoked such emotions. John T. Wills possesses the ability to transport the reader directly into the life and struggles of his main characters story. Tonja Covington

“JUST A SEASON is laced with thought-provoking commentary on the Vietnam War, the assassinations of the 1960s, the migration of crack cocaine into inner-city neighborhoods, and a myriad of other ills that have rocked America. This is a very good piece intertwined with several history lessons spanning many decades.” Dawn Reeves, RAWSISTAZ Book Club

“John T. Wills particulars each notion so eloquently that you feel that you’re actually right there with him… this is an inflicting history lesson that I believe all African American males should experience.” JUST A SEASON is a pivotal read. Carmen, OOSA ONLINE BOOK CLUB

“From the first page you are transported into John’s world as if you are there and are experiencing it with him. I thoroughly enjoyed “Just a Season”. Mia L. Haynes 

“Just a Season is a work of love, respect and honor… A book filled with the wonder of life, and the pain and growth encountered in living it.” Outstanding! Ron Watson, Editor, New Book Reviews.Org 

                            Get you copy of this Must Read Novel

Happy Birthday Champ

2Muhammad Ali, known as the greatest boxer of all times and viewed by most as the “Champ,” retired as the first three-time Heavyweight Champion of the World. He was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., the elder of two boys in Louisville, Kentucky, named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. They were named for the 19th century abolitionist and politician, the owner of Clay’s ancestors. Ali changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964.

Clay was directed toward boxing by a white Louisville police officer whom he encountered as a 12-year-old fuming over the theft of his bicycle. After an extremely successful amateur boxing career, he won a gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. Ali said in his 1975 autobiography that he threw his Olympic gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused service at a “whites-only” restaurant.

Not only was the Champ a fighter in the ring, he had the courage to fight the U.S. Government in 1967, when he refused to be inducted into the U.S. military based on his religious beliefs and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was arrested and found guilty on draft evasion charges, stripped of his boxing title, and his boxing license was suspended. He was not imprisoned but did not fight again for nearly four years while his appeal worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was successful.

Nicknamed “The Greatest,” Ali was involved in several historic boxing matches. Notable among them were three against rival Joe Frazier and one with George Forman, whom he beat by knockout to win the world heavyweight title for the second time. He suffered only five losses with no draws in his career, while amassing 56 wins, 37 knockouts and 19 decisions. Ali was well known for his unorthodox fighting style, which he described as “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” you can’t hit what you can’t see.

These personality quips and idioms, along with an unorthodox fighting technique, made him a cultural icon. Ali built a reputation by correctly predicting, with stunning accuracy, the round in which he would “finish” an opponent. Often referred to as “the man you loved to hate,” George could incite the crowd with a few heated remarks, which Ali used to his advantage.

Clay met his famous longtime trainer Angelo Dundee at a light heavyweight fight in Louisville shortly after becoming the top contender to fight Heavyweight Champion Sonny Liston. Despite his impressive record, he was not widely expected to defeat Liston who was considered a more sinister champion than Iron Mike Tyson. In fact, nobody gave him a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the fight against such a dominant champion. He won and shook up the world!

What is significant about Clay winning the bout is this: he said, “I am pretty, I can’t be beat” as he yelled into the cameras for the world to see. In the early sixties this was not the language Negro’s were using to describe themselves. Those words and that brash act was the catalyst for the black is beautiful movement, Afro-American, and black power. So from that perspective, yes, he shook up the world.

Aligning himself with the Nation of Islam made him a lightning rod for controversy, turning the outspoken but popular champion into one of that era’s most recognizable and controversial figures. Appearing at rallies with Elijah Muhammad and declaring his allegiance to him at a time when mainstream America viewed Black Muslims with suspicion and outright hostility made Ali a target of outrage, as well as suspicion. Ali seemed at times to provoke such reactions with viewpoints that wavered from support for civil rights to outright support of separatism.

Ali believed “War is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. After refusing the draft Ali became famous for saying, “I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong … They never called me Nigger.” It was rare for a heavyweight boxing champion in those days, or now, to speak at Howard University, where he gave his popular “Black Is Best” speech in 1996. The event of 4,000 cheering students and community intellectuals was surely another step toward his iconic stature.

At Ali’s trial, after only 21 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Ali guilty; the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction; the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court reversed by unanimous decision his conviction for refusing induction. The decision was not based on, nor did it address the merits of Clay’s/Ali’s claims per se; rather, the government’s failure to specify which claims were rejected and which were sustained constituted the grounds upon which the Court reversed the conviction.

Muhammad Ali defeated every top heavyweight in his era, which has been called the golden age of heavyweight boxing. Ali was named “Fighter of the Year” by Ring Magazine more times than any other fighter, and was involved in more Ring Magazine “Fight of the Year” bouts than any other fighter. He is an inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and holds wins over seven other Hall of Fame inductees.

He is also one of only three boxers to be named “Sportsman of the Year” by Sports Illustrated. In 1993, the Associated Press reported that Ali was tied with Babe Ruth as one of the most recognized athletes, out of over 800 dead or alive athletes, in America.

I met Muhammad and was so impressed I named my only son after him, hoping his example of courage and fortitude would be shared. He is my hero and I say: thank you for your example and sacrifice. Champ you are and will always be the the Greatest of ALL TIME! And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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