Ali the Conscientious Objector

On this date in 1967, Muhammed Ali was arrested for refusing his conscription into the US military for the Vietnam War. Ali was the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, and arguably the most famous athlete in the world, perhaps of all time. Yet later that day he was stripped of his titles and effectively banned from boxing for more than 3 years, at the height of his athletic prowess.

Ali was already a powerful symbol for African-American Civil Rights. His decision to be a conscientious objector, refusing to be drafted for the Vietnam War, elevated his status in the US and around the world as a counter-cultural icon. He stated, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand 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?” (source) Ali would eventually box again, regaining his championship belts, but it is his status as a champion of peace and of human rights that make him a true hero.

Find out more:


Muhammad Ali and Vietnam- The Atlantic

Why Ali Refused to Fight in the War- Washington Post

Muhammad Ali refuses Army induction- History.com

Muhammad Ali… – The Undefeated

The Ali Center

Hank Aaron

The world lost a true hero last week, as Henry “Hank” Aaron passed away at the age of 86. Hank Aaron was one of the greats of the sport of baseball, one of the best players ever to put on a major league uniform. More than that, he was a great human being. The legendary Muhammad Ali, in his day considered by many to be the world’s most famous, if not greatest, athlete, said of Aaron, that he was the “only man I idolize more than myself.” (Baseball Hall of Fame). In 1973 Aaron hit his 715th home run to pass the iconic Babe Ruth with the most ever. Aaron was under intense scrutiny as he approached the record, all the more because he was a black man who was about to break the record of a white hero, something that was unacceptable to the white supremacist ethos. Aaron faced intense racism, including death threats against him and his family. Remarkably, even in the face of such despicable conditions, he continued to perform on the field, crushing the all-time record, holding it for more than 30 years. For all who knew him personally, it was not surprising that off the field he continued to live a life of humility, dignity and integrity. Hank Aaron was an outspoken supporter of the Civil Rights movement, and spent his post-playing days working for many humanitarian and philanthropic causes.

Find out more about Hank Aaron:

Baseball Hall of Fame

Hank Aaron’s Legacy…

Civil Rights Walk of Fame

Hank Aaron’s Lasting Impact

Hank Aaron: Home Run Hero

Martin Luther King Jr.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on this day in 1929.

Dr. King was the leading figure of the Civil Rights Movement, as African-Americans struggled for freedom and equality in the United States. Dr. King was a brilliant orator and an inspirational leader. Dr. King was committed to the principals to non-violence, in part based on the example of Gandhi in India.  He believed that the only path towards a peaceful resolution of the plight of black people in the United States was through non-violence, civil disobedience, and peaceful protest.

source: CC / Wes Kandela

For more on the life of Dr. King:

Rosa Parks

source: wikimedia commons

One of the icons of the US Civil Rights movement looked an unlikely hero but proved to be someone whose strength of character belied her appearance. Rosa Parks was born on this day in 1934.  In the face of the overt racism of 1950’s America, Rosa famously refused to give up her seat on the bus, as black people were expected to do for white people. She was arrested, and the resulting Montgomery Bus Boycott proved to be one of foundational events of the Civil Rights Movement.

 

 

For more on Rosa Parks:

 

Come down to the School Library to check out our titles on Rosa Parks and other books for Black History Month:

 

 

Jackie Robinson

jroPro baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson was born on this day in 1919. An outstanding player who would go on to win MVP awards and Championships, Robinson will forever be remembered as the first African-American to play Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He stood up to unspeakable racism with dignity and grace. In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his breaking the colour barrier, Major League Baseball retired Jackie’s number, 42.

Muhammad Ali

aliCassius Clay was born on this day in 1942.  After winning a Gold Medal in the Olympics for the United States, he would turn professional and go on to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali as part of his conversion to Islam.  Ali would win the Heavyweight Title an unprecedented three times, most famously regaining the title in 1974, seven years after having his title stripped from him in 1967.  When Ali was drafted for military service by the US government, likely for duty in Vietnam, Ali refused induction as a conscientious objector, citing his religious beliefs and his opposition to the Vietnam War.  Ali famously told the world that “No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end”

Ali was arrested and found guilty of draft evasion. Boxing authorities stripped him of his title and banned him from the sport for nearly 4 years.  Although the Supreme Court eventually overturned his criminal conviction, he had lost his title and many years of his athletic prime.  Remarkably, he fought his way back to the top, defeating George Forman in the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974. After losing the title again in 1978 to Leon Spinks, Ali won the rematch to regain the Belt for an unprecedented third Heavyweight Boxing Title.

ali1 ali2 ali3Ali is arguably the greatest athlete in history. In his prime, he was certainly the most famous and recognizable athlete in the entire world. Ali was a polarizing figure, as many hated him for his brash, self-aggrandizing demeanor and his outspoken religious and political statements. However, even more people loved him. To a generation of people all over the globe, Ali was a counter-cultural hero who represented the struggle against racism, against war and against the conservative authorities of the day.

Find out more about Muhammad Ali:

www.ali.com

Muhammad Ali Center

The Greatest by Joyce Carol Oates

Martin Luther King Jr.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on this day in 1929.

Dr. King was the leading figure of the Civil Rights Movement, as African-Americans struggled for freedom and equality in the United States. Dr. King was a brilliant orator and an inspirational leader. Dr. King was committed to the principals to non-violence, in part based on the example of Gandhi in India.  He believed that the only path towards a peaceful resolution of the plight of black people in the United States was through non-violence, civil disobedience, and peaceful protest.

source: wikimedia commons / Library of Congress

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated as a national holiday in the United States on the 3rd Monday of January.

For more on the life of Dr. King:

Rosa Parks

source: wikimedia commons

One of the icons of the US Civil Rights movement looked an unlikely hero but proved to be someone whose strength of character belied her appearance. Rosa Parks was born on this day in 1934.  In the face of the overt racism of 1950’s America, Rosa famously refused to give up her seat on the bus, as black people were expected to do for white people. She was arrested, and the resulting Montgomery Bus Boycott proved to be one of foundational events of the Civil Rights Movement. For more on Rosa Parks:

Rosa Parks Legacy

International Civil Rights Walk of Fame

NAACP

 

 

Jackie Robinson

jroPro baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson was born on this day in 1919. An outstanding player who would go on to win MVP awards and Championships, Robinson will forever be remembered as the first African-American to play Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He stood up to unspeakable racism with dignity and grace. In 1997, on the 50th anniversary of his breaking the colour barrier, Major League Baseball retired Jackie’s number, 42.

Muhammad Ali

aliCassius Clay was born on this day in 1942.  After winning a Gold Medal in the Olympics for the United States, he would turn professional and go on to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. He changed his name to Muhammad Ali as part of his conversion to Islam.  Ali would win the Heavyweight Title an unprecedented three times, most famously regaining the title in 1974, seven years after having his title stripped from him in 1967.  When Ali was drafted for military service by the US government, likely for duty in Vietnam, Ali refused induction as a conscientious objector, citing his religious beliefs and his opposition to the Vietnam War.  Ali famously told the world that “No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder, kill, and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people the world over. This is the day and age when such evil injustice must come to an end”

Ali was arrested and found guilty of draft evasion. Boxing authorities stripped him of his title and banned him from the sport for nearly 4 years.  Although the Supreme Court eventually overturned his criminal conviction, he had lost his title and many years of his athletic prime.  Remarkably, he fought his way back to the top, defeating George Forman in the legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974. After losing the title again in 1978 to Leon Spinks, Ali won the rematch to regain the Belt for an unprecedented third Heavyweight Boxing Title.

ali1 ali2 ali3Ali is arguably the greatest athlete in history. In his prime, he was certainly the most famous and recognizable athlete in the entire world. Ali was a polarizing figure, as many hated him for his brash, self-aggrandizing demeanor and his outspoken religious and political statements. However, even more people loved him. To a generation of people all over the globe, Ali was a counter-cultural hero who represented the struggle against racism, against war and against the conservative authorities of the day.

Find out more about Muhammad Ali:

www.ali.com

Muhammad Ali Center

The Greatest by Joyce Carol Oates