By Shah Peerally, Esq.
Ali the greatest boxer of all and an activist.
Muhammad Ali a champion for all passed away at the age of 74 after struggling with Parkinson. Muhammad Ali will not only be remembered as probably the greatest boxer of all time but a person of integrity and an activist. Besides being an American Icon, Ali is also admired by many people all around the world.
He refused to go the draft of Vietnam war and fought his case on “religious freedom” not to fight. Then after September 11 2001, he stood for the Muslim community helping a very fearful group of people to deal with backlashes. President Bush actually honored him with the “Medal of Freedom”! He was a Sunni Muslim and believed in uniting the Muslim world with America.
Despite the fact that Ali was impaired by his sickness, Ali continued to help people in the immigrant community as well as many Americans. Ali’s name resonates in the mouth of millions around the world as a hero. Presidents call on him as a mediator in many situations including mediating with the Muslim world.
Ali was also a good friend of Malcolm X who actually made a huge impact on the American society including the civil rights movement. Ali’s resistance to an unfair system during the 1960s using his fame earned him an amazing reputation. He was a visionary refusing to go to war when many were pro-war. Ultimately during Ali’s time the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Ali was among the great heroes of his time including Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
How Ali activism helped the immigrant communities.
Today many of the rights which minorities have are derived from Civil Right Act 1964. This act not only helped Blacks but also other communities for equal rights. Had this Act not been passed, immigrants especially immigrants of color would not have been able to get equal employment, equal education and equality in religion. Today some politicians are itching to reverse equal rights. In fact, both blacks and immigrants are often treated as second class citizens. The death of Ali should be considered as the death of one of the last heroes of the civil rights era. Although Ali is gone, his legacy just like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. will remain. It is more important than ever to remember that the fight of the African Americans are tied to the struggle of immigrants. Immigrants who think they are not related to the civil rights struggle are getting it completely wrong especially since most immigrants are now going through unprecedented abuses.
While we have always seen Ali as this great boxer, immigrants should be grateful not only for him being the “greatest” but also for being a civil rights activist.
May he rest in peace. Ali, May God bless you in the best place in His kingdom. Ali is certainly unique and will never be replaced!