In addition to the many facets of Muhammed Ali’s public life, he was just as passionate about his opposition to the Vietnam War as he was about the many social issues he tackled.
In the wake of his death this Friday at 74, the Internet has been flooded with clips and retrospectives commemorating the activism and attention-commanding antics of the greatest boxer who ever lived. Most notable was Ali’s willingness to speak up – especially during the 60’s when many black celebrities knew that opening their mouths against the white establishment meant career death.
One example is a rare clip where Ali debates a white college student who questioned his unwillingness to fight in Vietnam.
“I’m saying, you’re talking about me – about some draft, and all of you white boys are breaking your neck to get to Switzerland and Canada and London…”
In the video, Ali directly challenged the unidentified student to explain why he should fight in Vietnam when there’s a war for equality raging at home.
“I’m not gonna help nobody get something the negros don’t have, because if I’m gonna die, I’ll die right here fighting you… You’re my enemy. My enemy is the white people, not Vietcong or Chinese or Japanese. You’re my opposer when I want freedom. You’re my opposer when I want justice. You’re my opposer when I want equality. You won’t even stand up for me in America, for my religious beliefs, and you want me to go somewhere and fight but you won’t even stand up for me here at home.”
Watch a clip of the exchange below:
H/t @LeftSentThis (Twitter)