By Abby Zimet
June 06, 2016 - commondreams.org
A nod to the great Muhammad Ali, dead at 74, a brave black man at a difficult time who "just wanted to be free," who never knew his place and refused to be afraid when others tried to put him in it, who insisted to the world of power that first honored and then rejected him that "I don't have to be what you want me to be," who at the height of his fame and riches declared "Goddamn the White Man's money" in the name of principle, who refused to join a racist unjust war, connected the dots of white oppression around the world and proclaimed, "The real enemy of my people is here."
Though so many remember him for unprecedented grit and grace in the boxing ring, Ali himself chose again and again to measure his own worth in the world beyond his bloody sport. “Boxing is nothing, just satisfying to some bloodthirsty people," he said near the end of his reign. "I’m no longer a Cassius Clay, a Negro from Kentucky. I belong to the world, the black world." The final irony of Ali's political heroism, notes Dave Zirin, is that he was unequivocally hailed as a national icon only after he lost his fearless voice.