Muhammad Ali. One of the greatest boxers of all time. One of the most important figures of the 20th century. One of America’s most influential black men, and most important Muslims. A fighter for titles as well as for rights. A man striving, struggling, fighting for himself, and for his brothers and sisters, to be seen as people, to be treated like the humans that they are. An out-spoken, and self proclaimed “never politically correct,” activist. A hero.
Since his passing I’ve seen people who don’t want muslims in this country and who want to act as if the black man (and the black woman) don’t still have a serious plight in this country try to pay respects to his legacy. But if we are not willing to act in a more humane, loving, and compassionate way, to see all of God’s people as our brothers and sisters, to try to end discrimination and oppression, how can we claim to be paying any respect to this man?
Our gift was to have him here, and as unapologetically black as he was, he was never anything if not an example of how to live as a person of deep faith, and of deep conviction rooted in that faith. I may not have agreed with him on some things, but truly his was, and is still, a hero to me. Thank you, Mr. Ali.