Revolutionary Of The Week
The world mostly knows of Muhammad Ali from his successful boxing career. But what makes Muhammad Ali this weeks Revolutionary Of The Week is the fact that Ali was an anti-war activist & was persecuted for that & his refusal to submit to the military draft.
On June 19th, 1967, an all-white jury in Houston, Texas, found Ali guilty for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. Ali was given 5 years in prison, even though the average sentence for such a charge was just 18 months!
Ali has his passport confiscated, & was also stripped of his heavyweight title. This led to a 3 1/2 year hiatus from his boxing career at the prime of his life.
All this punishment for standing up for what he believed in.
Ali's refusal to be a tool for the United States goverment's war boosted the anti-war movement that was typically carried out by the white community.
Across the world, people showed their support for Ali. In Pakistan, young Pakistanis fasted. In Cairo, there was a huge demonstration. And in Guyana, there was a picket & rally in front of the US Embassy.
Muhammad Ali said, " Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I'm not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once, and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people, or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality...If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn't have to draft me, I'd join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I'll go to jail, so what? We've been in jail for 400 years."
While in exile, Ali said, " I'm expected to go overseas to help free people from South Vietnam and at the same time, my people here are being brutalized, hell no! I would like to say to those of you who think I have lost so much, I have gained everything. I have peace of heart; I have a clear, free conscience. And I am proud. I wake up happy, I go to bed happy, and If I go to jail I'll go to jail happy."
For standing up for what he believed in, regardless of the consequences, Muhammad Ali is truly a Revolutionary.