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Remembering: Muhammad Ali

The Greatest of All Times

thMuhammad 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, on January 17, 1942. He was named after his father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., who was named after 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, but he also 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.

Standing tall at 6 feet, 3 inches, Clay had a highly unorthodox style for a heavyweight boxer. Rather than the normal style of carrying the hands high to defend the face, he instead relied on foot speed and quickness to avoid punches and carried his hands low. He coined a new technique called the rope-a-dope where he rested on the ring ropes and let the dope, his opponent, punch himself out. He was also known for his pre-match hype, where he would “trash talk” opponents on television and in person before the match and often with rhymes.

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. While still Cassius Clay, he adopted the latter practice from “Gorgeous” George Wagner, a popular professional wrestling champion who drew thousands of fans. 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.

As Clay, he met his famous longtime trainer Angelo Dundee during 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.

The fight was scheduled for February 25, 1964, in Miami, Florida, but it almost never happened because the promoter heard that Clay had been seen around Miami and in other cities with the controversial Muslim Leader, Malcolm X. The promoters perceived this association as a potential gate killer to the fight where Liston was overwhelmingly favored to win. However, it was Clay’s colorful persona and nonstop braggadocio that gave the fight its sole appeal.

The ever-boastful Clay frequently taunted Liston during the buildup to the bout by dubbing him “the big ugly bear” among other things. During the weigh-in on the day before the bout, acting like a wild crazy man, Clay declared for the first time that he would “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” He summarized his strategy for avoiding Liston’s assaults this way: “Your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see.”

By the third round, Clay was ahead on points and had opened a cut under Liston’s eye. Liston regained some ground in the fourth, as Clay was blinded by a substance in his eyes. It is unconfirmed whether this was something used to close Liston’s cuts or deliberately applied to Liston’s gloves. What is clear, boxing historians and insiders have recalled, is that in at least two other Liston fights a similar situation occurred, suggesting the possibility that the Liston corner deliberately attempted to cheat.

By the sixth, Clay dominated Liston and was looking for a finish. Then Liston shocked the boxing world when he failed to answer the bell for the seventh round, claiming his shoulder was injured. At the end of the fight, Clay boasted to the press that doubted him before the match, proclaiming, “I shook up the world!” When Clay beat Liston at age 22, he became the youngest boxer ever to take the title from a reigning heavyweight champion, a mark that stood until the Mike Tyson’s reign began.

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.

After winning the championship, Clay revealed that he was a member of the Nation of Islam. It was the movement’s leader Elijah Muhammad who gave Clay the name Cassius X, discarding his surname as a symbol of his ancestors’ enslavement, as had been done by other Nation members. On Friday, March 6, 1964, Malcolm X took Clay on a tour of the United Nations building where he announced that Clay would be granted his “X.” That same night, Elijah Muhammad recorded a statement over the phone to be played over the radio that Clay would be renamed Muhammad – one who is worthy of praise, and Ali – rightly guided.

The rematch with Liston was held in May 1965 in Lewiston, Maine. Ali, who had changed his name by this time, won by knockout in the first round as a result of what came to be called the “phantom punch.” Many believe that Liston, possibly as a result of threats from Nation of Islam extremists or in an attempt to “throw” the fight to pay off debts, waited to be counted out. However, most historians discount both scenarios and insist that it was a quick, chopping punch to the side of the head that legitimately fell Liston. Ali would later call the punch an “anchor punch” used by the Great Jack Johnson.

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.

For example, Ali once made this comment in relation to integration: “We who follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad don’t want to be forced to integrate. Integration is wrong. We don’t want to live with the white man; that’s all.” Or this remark about inter-racial marriage: “No intelligent black man or black woman in his or her right black mind wants white boys and white girls coming to their homes to marry their black sons and daughters.” It was clear that his religious beliefs at the time included the notion that the white man was “the devil” and that white people were not “righteous.” Ali would also make claims that white people hated black people.

In early 1966, Ali was reclassified to be eligible for the draft and induction into the U.S. Army during a time when the United States was involved in the Vietnam War. When notified of this status, he declared that he would refuse to serve in the Army and publicly considered himself a conscientious objector. Ali believed “War is against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. I’m not trying to dodge the draft. We are not supposed to take part in no wars unless declared by Allah or The Messenger. We don’t take part in Christian wars or wars of any unbelievers.”

Ali also famously said, “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. Ali was invited to speak by Howard’s sociology professor Nathan Hare on behalf of the Black Power Committee, a student protest group. The event of 4,000 cheering students and community intellectuals was surely another step toward his iconic stature.

Appearing shortly thereafter for his scheduled induction into the U.S. Armed Forces on April 28, 1967, in Houston, he refused three times to step forward at the call of his name. An officer warned him he was committing a felony punishable by five years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Once more, Ali refused to budge when his name was called. As a result, he was arrested and on the same day the New York State Athletic Commission suspended his boxing license and stripped him of his title as did other boxing commissions, for being unpatriotic.

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. During this time, the public began turning against the war and support for Ali began to grow. Ali supported himself by speaking at colleges and universities across the country, where opposition to the war was especially strong. 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.

The legacy of the “Greatest” is the stuff movies are made of – 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 have 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. You are the Greatest of All Times. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…..

Black History is American History


The One Hundred Day Disaster

1x.jpgFirst, let’s be clear the whole election was motivated and won because of race and the black man once elected to lead America. I have always said to white folk that if you hate the black part of him, try loving the white part; after all – his mother was white.

Therefore, it is also clear that the person chiefly responsible for the racist and bogus birther claim was elected president for that very reason. Everybody knows that race has always been the driving America’s force in policy making to protect and benefit white folk! This guy railed about and against everything thing Obama did and he has done all those things himself.

So white folk got together and claimed to want a razzle-dazzle President says outrageous, untrue and inconsistent things in the hope of generating headlines or as they said to take back their country. They failed to scrutinize any of his deplorable actions and now we face the very real possibility of  war and the collapse of America. So it’s no surprise that #45 is disparaging the inevitable results-oriented First 100 Days reviews.

He has signed a huge number of executive orders and nothing else; meaning he has failed to do anything for the people only for his family and rich friends. This man is unqualified, unfocused, unprincipled, divisive, shallow and nasty solipsist has been outmatched by a once-fooled national media, plus an unexpected Democratic pushback on the streets, in town halls, in Congress and in court. So far current polling shows Trump holding on to the lowest approval rating of any newly elected president in modern times.

Instead, let’s apply this axiom to his time in office; “facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” By the standards of legislation, strategy, popularity and national purpose, 45 has been a failure; an epic failure so far, with the prospect of more failures to come. Unless or until he is impeached! Why this happened is hidden in plain sight. It goes back to racism! There used to be a saying “white is right” and no matter what their offenses are overlooked.

One other element turns this into a political bonfire: Next to none of his bellowing, reactionary assumptions are true. His claim of building a wall again goes back to racism. Refugees don’t commit more crime, net immigration from Mexico is near zero, climate change is real, people want health insurance and meals on wheels, and giving more money to the top 0.1% makes them, not us, richer.

No, unlike Caligula, he has not named his horse first consul. But day after day, everything seems to be driven not by strategy and facts but only by vanity, money and family (his). “Yelling fake news,” wrote columnist Eugene Robinson “cannot mask a fake presidency.”

Let’s recap his first 100 days:

The only thing 45 can lay claim too is that he did give the country a conservative justice to the Supreme Court. Of course, he like any good performance artist, 45 has been frequently photographed with applauding appointees signing numerous minor executive orders and, pending judicial review, repealing recent Obama administration rules to protect workers, investors and our waterways. On the merits, these appear to be anti-accomplishments.

Trump has been a Lord of the Lies. For example, the FBI, Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan have said that President Barack Obama did not criminally wiretap Trump. Mean while, 45 dismiss all evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russians as “fake news” despite just about everybody working on his campaign seemed to have Russian interactions that the FBI is investigation as a criminal probe.

More troubling, he calls the media “the enemy of the people,” disparaging the independent judiciary and “so-called” judges, and trying to suppress voting rights, he appears to have more in common with Putin and other dictators around the world.

In short, all his failures and failings over 100 Days appear ominous. He doesn’t seem to have the capacity, discipline or motivation to grow into the job. It is very hard to change your habits and personality when you are over 70 years old; his lying, bullying, adolescent tweedicts, contempt for law and norms appear unalterable. This time in office has been a disaster! And that is my thought provoking perspective…


A War He Cannot Win: Another Fine Mess

1-I don’t want to sound like a prophet or something but I predicted military action from this guy on the day he was sworn into office. It was no major feat because Ray Charles could see this coming. I will begin by saying quite frankly that I am opposed to war with no doubt and for good reason. It does nothing for ordinary people but bring death and hardship, but it does makes the rich richer and we know the Republicans friends are the rich white men to benefit from war. Just watch in the coming days how this thing called patriotism will be frequently used. This is why they praise every republican president because they will make sure there will be a war. Bush’s war is still going on with no end in sight, so war is good business.

I have strong reasons for being anti-war because I fought in one! If you have not you are buying into a myth that it is a good – it’s not! I was in Vietnam and I realized it is not about giving anyone freedom to people because the people they want to give it too have no idea what freedom is. Therefore, how can you give something to a people who have no concept of such a thing these American’s speak. Especially, when they see that America does not give it to their own people!

Now the Republicans have got another war, which they wanted. Let’s look at the facts America has not won a war in 75 years, but they keep starting them. The problem is those who start wars don’t fight them! You, 45, are so dramatic talking about babies being gassed! Those same people and their babies are the ones you want to refused to let enter the country or made sanctuary cities illegal. War is very different than your son’s going off to Africa killing wild animals. More to the point, 45 did what amounts to draft dodging during the Vietnam conflict, yet claiming he was patriotic.

Just look at the language they are using “he gassed and killed his own people”. Does that sound like a past president saying the same thing about Iraq? The question is, now what? At the very least, this attack on another country in the Middle East will surely make more enemies and deepen America’s role in the never ending wars in the region. The truth of the matter is that here at home black people are being killed almost daily and starving but this guy is upset because the children killed made him sad and launched this attack stating “these people were killed by their own leader”. Yet, he can’t say the words white racist terror on black people in America and she calls himself a leader.

Look at it this way, 45 and his administration is under fire from all quarters – right now. So the bombing of Syria is being used for the sole purpose of a distraction. We all know how the America works and uses war as a means, to invade Iraq for example, to take our minds off the real issues. They will wrap the country in the flag and everything proposed will get rubber stamped. Don’t Sleep. Don’t get distracted or fooled. We have seen this before and it is directly out of their playbook. And that is my thought provoking perspective…


Follow The Money

th-11One thing I have learned though all of my life’s experiences, especially from living in America and its’ so-called democracy is that the truth is a nonexistent fallacy! Nothing exemplifies this more than watching the news; be it national, local, or otherwise. The news media is a propaganda vehicle designed to get those commercial dollars – not about giving you the truth. As the new president and his cronies often says “who cares”!

This seemingly is the attitude of most white folk in general not only when it come to the lies the media tells. But pick up a history book which is the best evidence of this – as we have all come to know – there is no truth in His-Story! But the sad thing is they believe it and continue to propagate these stories, which anyone can see they are not true.

However, I have long said and believe that if you follow the money and you will always get the answer or find the truth. It does not matter the topic or subject; there is always money at its root, just look to see who benefits and get’s the money! In matters of race or war – it’s about the money. I am amazed that there are still people who foolishly think matters of race is because of skin color. No-no, it is about the color of money and who gets it! Black folk spend a trillion dollars a year; who gets it?

When it comes to matters of war; does anyone believe that America cares about the people in the Middle East or anywhere the American troops go to fight and kill people in the name of democracy? It is about brainwashing you to make you believe that is the case. But, again no-no, it is about the armaments and products corporation sell to the government, so they get richer. Ask yourself; how much of the seven trillion dollars did you get out of this current war? But it was your tax dollars funding this fifteen-year debacle! More often than not all you got was heartache and sorrow because of the loss or maiming of a loved one.

And now with the new administration coming in I predict that another war is coming or a major escalation of troops in this one. So don’t wait for you head to spend for a quick end to this war. Rich folk will tell the American people that war is good for the economy and it is about patriotism! Again no-no it is good for them. It is about the money and how much of it they can get for themselves – period!

In closing, the new president and the cast of billionaires he has appointed; do you really think they care about you, your life or interest? I will only say, remember Bush and his cronies! This guy will make him look like a boy scout! And that is my thought provoking perspective…


History Says:

The nation was stolen, built on the backs of slaves, murdered Native American, and countless wars. I contend there is a difference between His-Story and History. What say you?

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One truth that most overlook is “they gave a man the vote and made him think he is free”! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The Debate: Nothing To See Here

5I want to offer a commentary on last night’s vice presidential debate – let’s say from a black perspective. I am not a political scientist, but I have common sense. It was more of a proxy war between this year’s presidential candidates than a contest about capabilities of the two men on stage. It was kinda like an unfair fight because Gov. Mike Pence had to try to defend the indefensible Donald Trump. He did so by doing the GOP tried and true tactic of conjuring up a candidate who does not exist; Reagan by sticking to a muscular foreign policy, small government and traditional Christian values. It was as if he was defending the running mate he wished he had.

To the extent that he succeeded in landing blows on Hillary Clinton while declining to defend Mr. Trump’s proposals and record. However, when Sen. Tim Kaine listed a variety of Mr. Trump’s offenses and lies from stoking the racist “birther” movement to attacking Sen. John McCain’s war record to calling women disgusting names, which were all insulting. All Pence could do was respond by claiming Ms. Clinton and Mr. Kaine have run an insult-rich campaign.

Similarly, when challenged to defend Mr. Trump’s plans for the budget and entitlement programs, Pence insisted the Democrats would create “a mountain range of debt,” though Mr. Trump’s tax-cutting plan would, in fact, balloon the debt much more. Pence played down Mr. Trump’s promises to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and his well-documented skepticism of NATO. He frequently insisted that Mr. Trump would be “strong” where President Obama and Ms. Clinton are “weak,” attacking them for “Russian aggression” under their watch, but he dodged when Mr. Kaine pointed out that Mr. Trump has cozied up to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Pence’s all-purpose defense of Mr. Trump was that “Donald Trump is a businessman, not a career politician.” He deployed this line when attempting to explain why Mr. Trump has failed to release his tax returns. But the fact that Mr. Trump lacks a public record to scrutinize makes it only more important that he release his tax returns, so the public can see how he conducted the professional life on which he bases his campaign. Especially, in light of the latest revelation that Trump lost nearly a billion dollars in one year.

This is not to say Mr. Kaine shined but his frequent interruptions to make his points about Mr. Trump uncomfortable, although mostly correct. Pence effectively bore in on areas of the world that have become less stable during the past eight years. Both candidates, meanwhile, failed to respond to a range of substantive questions from moderator Elaine Quijano. Neither ticket, for example, has a plan to take on the nation’s long-term budget imbalances.

I wonder if anyone realized that most of the problems mentioned by Pence were the result of the GOP obstruction. Both candidates said that, unlike Mr. Obama, they favor creating a safe zone in Syria, but, when pressed, neither explained how or by whom that zone would be protected. A break from the dodging and insulting came when they thoughtfully debated abortion, with both men fervently defending their very different points of view.

Repeatedly over the course of Tuesday’s debate, Mr. Kaine exclaimed that he could not believe Mr. Pence could defend Mr. Trump’s behavior and record. In a way, Mr. Kaine was right while in my view, although polished Mr. Pence largely did not. The bottom line is this; more of the same and nothing to see here! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The Truth Is: It’s All Lies

3The way white folk tell the story of history it always makes him the hero, which is why it’s called His-Story. The truth of the matter is that very little of what he told is true! We can start with Columbus who was the original robber and murderer! Then we can ask the native people of America how they were treated. When it comes to Black people history is clear the crimes inflicted upon this race. But they say that “all men are created equal”. This was the biggest lie ever told!

Minister Malcolm asked a profound question before he was taken from us. Having seen racism, known Jim Crow and witnessed segregation I’ve pondered and sought the answer to a question brother Malcolm asked and I presume most black people have done as well; “How can so few rule so many?”

After I became a man, I learned the answer was right before my eyes in the place where all the lies are buried – the LIBRARY. Perhaps, this is the reason black people were killed for learning how to read. These people knew if the oppressed could read they would learn everything told and taught to them in terms of history was a lie, which means the actual truth was never told and one of amoral behavior and pure evil perpetrated in the name of God.

The story of the conquerors begins with a criminal who got lost and stumbled upon an island he called the new world, never reaching the shores of America but given credit for discovering it. Upon his arrival, he raped, murdered, and pillaged becoming their hero. Others followed with the same criminal intent to take the land where people resided and all the resources claiming under the guise of “Manifest Destiny,” which means God himself, said they were entitled to it.

They told us how they were welcomed with a story of Thanksgiving where the people helped them survive only to be slaughtered. The same thing occurred in a place called Jamestown, where again they received help from the inhabitants during a time called “the starving times”; their gratitude was stealing the land and annihilating the people who helped them survive.

The country was taken officially with acts of terror and revolution in the name of “Liberty for all” and something called a Constitution. To this point, they had already, for a half a century, used the enslavement of human beings taken from Africa to build wealth and a nation. To cement their supremacy, this document said, the people of African descent they claimed were not human to justify the abuse. Further, to justify this, they said these human beings were nothing more than chattel property – merely a beast of burden used for prosperity.

They convince the African people after being reduced to lifelong servitude to celebrate the Fourth of July and the liberty it granted, albeit only for them. It is important to note, shortly after the stolen nation was formed, the first law passed was the “Naturalization Act of 1790,” which said that “only free white people can be citizens of this country”. For the purpose of understanding, when you hear the coded phrase “we want our country back” speaks directly to this law meaning for white people, who they call the real Americans!

Then it was the most brutal act of their conscience, which was having the slave fight a war against itself, the Civil War, to see who would have the right to benefit from black people being slaves. More whites died in this conflict than in any of America’s wars. Ironically, they called it a “Civil War”. Frankly, there is nothing civil about this type of insanity. In the end, they told the Colored’s they were free, and Lincoln emaciated them. In fact, Lincoln never emaciated anyone. A precursor to the war was a significant Supreme Court ruling in the case of Dred Scott, who challenged the government for his freedom. The court ruled, “There are no rights a Negro has that a white man is bound to respect”.

What followed was something called Reconstruction. This was not successful by design and racism reared its ugly head more viciously ushering in a new system of control – Separate but Equal leading to segregation and Jim Crow, which was nothing more than Apartheid. Of course, even in modern times when there is news footage of the horrors of racism; lynching’s, brutal attacks, fire hoses, or death. Most white people ignore it as if somehow the abused black people were at fault.

As I close with this shameful summation, let me say that it was the use of religion and a marvelous story, mostly myth, used as a cover for the ungodly acts to support these dreadful horrors against mankind. To that point, no one knows what Jesus actually looked liked but the picture representing him looks like Massa with blonde hair and blue eyes. It was also the Massa who taught and gave knowledge of this religion to the slave, which has enslaved trillions of minds to this very day. Therefore, laws were created by white people for white people to be used as a weapon against black people and have been detrimental since the slave-holding so-called forefathers who designed it that way.

In short, we are taught a feel-good Disney-style version of history to promote patriotism and the Willie Lynch Syndrome to continue racism. Both combined results continued wealth for a few, which is why so few can rule so many. He who has the gold, therefore, makes the rules. Therefore, the only way to make a change is to choose not to spend your money with those who oppress you!

Minister Malcolm also said of America’s dirt “The chickens come home to roost”! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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