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Muhammad AliDesignated by the United Nations in 1998 as a UN Messenger for Peace, Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) is best remembered in his passing as a man dedicated to justice.  Six themes guided his life: respect, confidence, conviction, dedication, giving and spirituality. Combined they produced a man who wasn't afraid to stand up for what he believed in no matter the consequences.

During the Vietnam War, Ali refused to be drafted and declared himself to be a conscientious objector, publically making the connection between war, racism and poverty that most white Americans didn't want to hear. Convicted of draft evasion, Ali was stripped of his heavy weight title and lost the income he would have made in the yearsMuhammad Ali he wasn't allowed to fight. He spent those years speaking out against the war on college campuses and in the media. Eventually, his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court, and Ali came back to fight and take a stand for peace and justice.

Although Ali, as an Olympic and professional boxer, was not a pacifist, he spoke out strongly against unjustified wars. His stand on the Vietnam War, inspired Martin Luther King to express his own opposition to the war.

He also spoke against bigotry and racism. Even suffering from Parkinson's disease in his last years did not stop him from responding to  anti-Muslim comments by president candidate Donald Trump. As such he provided a role model different from that of most athletes of his time who steered clear of political stands. His courageous speaking out changed the way athletes were viewed and how athletes could use their renown in the sports arena to affect greater change in society.

He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.

Muhammad Ali

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We offer books, activities, lesson plans, and ideas that teachers, parents, and students can use to promote values, attitudes and behaviors which encourage non-violent resolution of conflict, respect for human rights, democracy, intercultural understanding and tolerance.

2 Comments

  1. ANH LE says:

    MUHAMMAD ALI, A MAN OF PEACE

    By ANH LE

    Muhammad Ali’s legacy as the greatest boxing champion and a man of peace will endure in our hearts and minds.

    During the Vietnam War, my parents and our family prayed daily for the bombings from the B-52’s to stop, the slaughtering of Vietnamese and Americans to cease, the atrocities, massacres, and burnings of villages to end, and for a peaceful settlement to the war.

    Muhammad Ali courageously stated, “My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me a nigger. They never lynched me. They didn’t put no dogs on me…Just take me to jail.”

    While other Americans could dodge the draft with college deferments and escaping to Canada, Ali declared himself a conscientious objector. But the government convicted him, stripped him of his boxing titles, pettily yanked his passport, and deprived him of his prime years as boxer.

    Ali, who grew up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky, was spat upon by our government. It tried to diminish him as a man, a Black American man, and to take away his humanity.

    Yet Muhammad Ali stood tall and proud.

    Muhammad Ali stands with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Ghandi.

    Ali’s truth was the precurser to “Black Lives Matter.”

    For Muhammad Ali, when he refused to go to Vietnam to kill Vietnamese, he honored his conscience and his belief in the sanctity of human life.

    Let us renew our belief in the sanctity of human life.

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