I met Muhammad Ali for the first time on the campus of Howard University in Washington D.C. He had refused to be inducted into the military on a religion-based claim in Clay v. United States 403 U.S. 698 (1971). Tawana Brawley was “a bridge over troubled waters” in 1987. The bridge collapsed because of waste. This is “legalese.”
Stated differently, Pete Singer, the well-celebrated folk singer, spoke out against six white men raping a fifteen year-old Tawana Brawley while celebrated black leaders, on the other hand, were running for the tall grass. United States v. Seeger 380 U.S. 163 (1965) was the forerunner to Clay. I represented Seeger in Albany Police Court, pro bono, for demanding civil rights for blacks and justice for Tawana Brawley.
Blacks had no one among its scholars and historians to connect the dots between Muhammad Ali and Pete Seeger. Personally, I was drafting a writ of habeas corpus to abbreviate the pre-trial detention of Brawley’s supporters in Albany, NY, including Seeger. A historian was necessary to fill the void. Historians were MIA.
To appreciate Muhammad Ali, you have to recognize that conscientious objector status can only be raised when a government seeks to raise an army by conscription or when a drafted person harbors views that are opposed to war. Thurgood Marshall was supposed to be the resident scholar on black history in the “High Court.”
When he recused himself, things got “sticky” for Muhammad Ali. Justice Thurgood Marshall harbored a bias against the Nation of Islam which made it impossible for him to judge Ali’s claim. A clerk on the “High Court” had to seek answers from the “horse’s mouth,” Hon. Elijah Muhammad. Mr. Muhammad saved Ali.
It is sad that former President Bill Clinton, Billy Crystal and Bryant Gumbel will have to explain Muhammad Ali to the world. I had hoped that I would at least be able to give a synopsis while on “Leid Story” this past Monday. I intend to make a full presentation at an all-day workshop on June 11, 2016 at the Cotton Club in Harlem at 10:00 a.m. (212)663-7980. This is a critical presentation!
This presentation will also include military history, legal history and black history and make a comparison of the civil rights movement and the human rights movement in the 1960’s. Justice William Rehnquist ushered in the $ilver Rites Movement in 1972 and the Black Lives Matter Movement followed.
Only HELP (History Ethics Logic Philosophy) can explain the life and times of Muhammad Ali. His life must not be reduced to “His Story” as will be done in Louisville, KY on this Friday. If the white media is unwilling to tell “Our Story,” blacks must practice self-help.