Honoured to have met Muhammed Ali – Rest in Power Revolutionary, Black Nationalist, Icon to the World
Muhammed Ali a legend and an inspiration. Gone. I was privileged to meet him when he came to London promoting the Jubilee 2000 drop the debt campaign for the developing world. The fire in his soul still on display as he was mobbed in Brixton, in typical Ali fashion he had pre-signed leaflets promoting Islam for anyone who wanted his autograph.
While he was being introduced he spotted me seated in the front row – I was wearing an anti racist t shirt – he pointed at it and then to himself and punched a fist like a boxer – he had spotted me, a young black person in the audience and was saying ‘you and me we’re fighting racism together’ – he was ignoring his own intro to do this and I can’t tell you how powerful that moment was. It went deep. If people questioned (or sometimes ridiculed) my choice to be an anti racist campaigner from then on, I would think back to this moment. If it was good enough for Ali, it’s good enough for me.
In 2012 it was amazing to be on the field when he was a surprise guest appearance at the London Olympics.
Having only last week given a speech on the need for black unity and how important it is to fight racism together, it is bittersweet that this week, Ali’s great clarion call for unity, on why he would not fight in the Vietnam war, is being platformed and celebrated. The words as important now as they were then.
Rest in power dear brother – a Revolutionary, Black Nationalist Muslim man who stuck to his principles and became one of the most powerful icons of the 20th century.