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Muhammad Ali Speaks to the Activist Soul


Muhammad Ali Speaks to the Activist Soul

Richard Eskow

“Everything I did was according to my conscience. I wasn’t trying to be a leader. I just wanted to be free.” – Muhammad Ali (1942-2016)

In the end, Muhammad Ali wasn’t just the most important athlete of his time. And he wasn’t just a world-changing activist. He was even more than those things: he was a unified human being. His occupation was inseparable from his aspirations, his spiritual ideals inseparable from his worldly activities.

That’s an important lesson for any historical moment, and for this moment more than most.


“... independence of spirit freed an entire generation of athletes, artists and professionals to express their own beliefs in the public arena ... some paid the same high price for their convictions.”

Few braved so much hatred and distaste during their moment of defiance than Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the 1968 Olympics. Like the rest of the world, I was electrified by their Black Power salute - clenched fists punching the air - on the winners’ stands, but the two heroes were booed by the brainwashed Olympic crowd and expelled from the Games by the IOC. The Australian athlete who stood with them also wore a protest badge and was not picked to represent his country in the 1972 Olympics. When he passed away a few years ago, Smith and Carlos flew to Australia and were his pallbearers.


Ali spoke truth to power, an all too rare phenomenon.


Kings ,Queens, Presidents and Pope's all asked to meet "the Great One" he was a warrior and a Prince of peace, he was truly one of a kind,