war struggles and occurrences description


Pre-war struggles and the occurrences of the Second World War formed the basis for the massive Civil Rights movement. The movement began in the early 1950s and persisted for about three decades. The movement brought about numerous struggles, especially for African Americans. Muhammad Ali, who never dealt with much of the issues that faced the majority of the lower class African Americans, felt obliged to represent and defend his people using his personality status as an icon in sports. He used his position as an approach for people to listen and take heed of the pleas put forward by his people.

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Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr had begun fighting at the tender age of 12. He won a gold medal in the 1960 Olympic Games, in the 175-pound division, for the first time. After his victory, Clay began fighting in professional leagues. He won his first heavyweight fight against Hunsaker in 1960. In 1964, Clay announced that he had converted into Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali (Ali, and Karl 76). Muhammad had a strong relationship with his people and society that he sacrificed much for the African American community. In one instance on April 28, 1967, he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the period of the Vietnam War. He turned down the offer because he believed that war was immoral. Ali believed that, for the Blacks to serve in war, it was a ‘perversion of justice’ since the blacks never enjoyed equality back home. In 1966, Ali famously said that he had no quarrel with the Vietnamese, as they never called him a “nigger” (Ali and Hana 144).

His success in sports became a symbol of hope that spurred black Americans to proceed with their fight for racial equality. It is believed that Ali converted to Islam because of his amity with a Muslim who was also a Civil Rights activist during the same period. The Nation of Islam and Muslims urged the African American to cease cooperating with the “Mass Civil Rights Movement” (Hampton, Fayer, and Flynn 108). He also urged the blacks not to unite with their American oppressors. These radical views of Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm warranted Islam a militant and racist reputation. The society believed that there was a need to maintain segregation due to the turbulence and violence caused by assimilation. Eventually, Malcolm separated from the nation of Islam when he became more liberal in his ideas than in the earlier times. Malcolm sided with the ‘Mass Civil Rights’ that was headed by Dr. Martin Luther King.

Ten years after the assassination of Malcolm, Muhammad Ali abandoned the nation of Islam and converted to a traditional structure of Islam known as Sunni. The tendency of Ali to speak out his mind made him a contentious figure professionally and politically. In 1965, Muhammad initiated a debate with his fellow contender, Floyd Patterson. The debate focused on the conflicting beliefs that Ali and Patterson had on the struggle for civil rights (Hampton 98)

Muhammad was convicted for refusing to be inducted into the U.S. Army, and was sentenced to five years in prison and released four years later. His title was stripped and he was banned from fighting for a period of three-and-a-half years. As time proceeded, Muhammad’s impact was increasing among the Blacks, opponents of the Vietnam War, and people who had grievances against the situation in the country. Many activists could not understand how a sports figure managed to have so much political persuasion on many citizens.

After his comeback into his sport, Ali began reading the Quran with more focus on Orthodox Islam. In 1984, he publicly spoke out about Louis Farrakhan and his separatist principle of the nation of Islam. Ali said that Farrakhan did not teach everything that the Black Americans believed. Ali’s celebrity boosted his ego, promoting his outspoken nature rather than performing the traditionally accepted status associated with the second-class that the whites expected of the black Americans. Muhammad effectively used his persona as a successful and wealthy sports person to create a link between his payment of state taxes and his critics on the US government n how the government was disbursing the funds (Remnick 65).

A record of Ali’s speeches and press conferences reveal the various ways that Ali succeeded in channeling his celebrity using it as a powerful social force in the campaign for social justice that lacks violence.

I chose Ali because by appreciating his rhetoric, I find myself in a better position to understand leaders that led civil rights in American History than most of the ignorant people in society. These leaders were pitted sometimes as if they were antagonists in the drama that unfolded in the chaotic 1960s. Most of the people in the society failed to acknowledge the reality that the civil right leaders worked together to attain social justice by fighting racist attitudes, the conduct of wars, and racist practices in America.

As a sports person, Ali encourages other sportsmen not to be left out of the society, as they could be very influential in instilling the desired ideas and promote co-existence of persons regardless of their ethnicity, colour, and social class. In summary, Muhammad used everything at his disposal, mainly his fame gained from suffering and violence he encountered while boxing, to fight a completely different type of fight involving racism and militarism.




Works Cited

Ali, Muhammad, and Karl Evanzz. I am the greatest: the best quotations from Muhammad Ali. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews McMeel, 2002. Print.

Ali, Muhammad, and Hana Ali. The soul of a butterfly: reflections on life’s journey. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. Print.

Hampton, Henry, Fayer Steve, and Flynn Sarah. Voices of freedom: an oral history of the civil rights movement from the 1950s through the 1980s. New York: Bantam Books, 1990. Print.

Hampton, Henry. Voices of freedom: an oral history of the civil rights movement from the 1950s through the 1980s. Uncorrected proof ed. New York: Bantam Books, 1990. Print.

Remnick, David. King of the world: Muhammad Ali and the rise of an American hero. New York: Random House, 1998. Print.

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