Thursday, July 28, 2005

Soul of a Butterfly

From Muhammad Ali's book Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey, Ali mentions an incident that occurred after he won his gold medal in boxing at the 1960 Olympic Games.

He had been riding around with a friend of his on motor bikes in Louisville when it was raining. They walked into a restaurant and ordered some meals. A waitress told them that "We don't serve Negroes."

Ali's reply, "Well, we don't eat them either."

Remember that Ali was wearing his gold medal around his neck when this happened. He told the waitress who he was. At that moment he was Cassius Clay, Olymic Champion. At this moment the waitress went into the back to talk with her manager. Ali surely believed they'd let him an olympic gold medal winner eat there. But they still had to leave this restaurant.

So here's a paragraph about this incident from the book...

As Ronnie (his friend) and I stood up and walked out of the door, my heart was pounding. I wanted my medal to mean something-the mayor had said it was the key to Louisville. It was supposed to mean freedom and equality. I wanted to tell them they should all be ashamed. I wanted to tell them that this was supposed to be the land of the free. As I got up and walked out of that restaurant, I didn't say anything, but I was thinking that

I just wanted America to be America.

Ali had this medal on virtually all the time until this incident. Louisville was his town and someone didn't want him in his restaurant. Everyone knew who he was and he even won the gold medal. But this meant nothing especially since he "didn't have the right skin color."

Ronnie wanted me to call one of the millionaire from my sponsoring group to tell them what happened, and I almost did, but more than anything, I wanted that medal to mean that I was my own man and would be respected and treated like any other human being. Then I realized that even if it had been my "Key to the City," if it could get me into the "White only" place, then what good was it? What about other Black people?
Ali came to realize that his medal didn't mean "equality for all, it didn't mean anything at all."

...From that moment on, I (Ali) have never placed great value on material things. What really matters is how you feel about yourself. If I had kept that medal I would have lost my pride.
Well first off I didn't even know he was in the Olympics and won gold. But I was surprised a little to find out what he did with his medal. It seems drastic but one can understand where he was coming from I hope. So in his own words this is what happened to his medal.

Over the years I have told some people I had lost it, bu no one ever found it. That's because I lost it on purpose. The world should know the truth-it's somewhere at the bottom of the Ohio River.
This is a timely quote given the Rev. Meeks situation during the last couple of weeks or so.

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