It was six years ago today.. Back on the day of June 3rd in 2016 – long before anybody had heard of the coronavirus, long before anybody knew the term, social distancing, before HBO did the unthinkable and ditched boxing, before the cruel death of George Floyd – Muhammad Ali passed away.
How much has the world already changed since that sad day? Ali, as popular as ever, maybe even more so, still speaks to millions, if not billions of people. Listen today to Ali the black activist talk via his many hours of recorded material and you might be inclined to agree with the words he had about the racial struggle even more.
Ali stood up. He sacrificed a whole lot. And he did it for his race – the human race (to steal a line from Jimmy Cannon). Ali would be out there, “hollering loud” if he was still here today, that much is certain. Ali, along with many, many other human beings, was appalled at the events that took place during the Attica Prison riot in 1971, when 33 black inmates were shot down. Ali wrote possibly his finest, most passionate poem, and he sure took to the chat shows to deliver it with pride and passion. Maybe Ali, if he were here today, would be moved to perform a similar task in response to the ghastly, unforgivable murder of George Floyd.
What has happened to America, Ali might ask? Have things got worse? Is racial discrimination a bigger, nastier issue and problem now, even more so than ever before? Does the media accurately and fairly report the sick stuff that is going on daily in so many once-proud cities?
We’ve never needed a Muhammad Ali, a Malcolm X, and a Martin Luther King more than we do right now.
Rest in peace, champ. There sure ain’t too much of it going around in your country of birth these days.
Muhammad Ali: January 1942 to June 2016.