Muhammad Ali

Clay, aka Ali v. United States 1966-1971

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"Black Scholar Interviews: Muhammad Ali." Black Scholar 1, no. 8(June 1970): 32-39.

In the midst of Muhammad Ali's legal battle to obtain conscientious to objector status and get his championship belt back, he gave an interview to the Black Scholar in which he touched on Vietnam. It is probably best to let the prolific Muhammad Ali talk for himself.

"What's wrong with me going to jail for something I believe in? Boys are dying in Vietnam for something they don't believe. I met two black soldiers a while back in an airport. They said: 'Champ, it takes a lot of guts to do what you're doing.' I told them: 'Brother, you just don't know. If you knew where you were going now, if you knew your chances of coming out with no arm or no eye, fighting those people in their own land, fighting Asian brothers, you got to shoot them, they never lynched you, never called you nigger, never put dogs on you, never shot your leaders. You've got to shoot your 'enemies' (they call them) and as soon as you get home you won't be able to find a job. Going to jail for a few years is nothing compared to that.' We've gone too far to turn around. They've got to go on and either free me or put me in jail, because I'm going to go on just like I am, taking my stand. If I have to go to jail, if I have to die, I'm ready.

People are always asking me what I think about the draft. I wrote a little poem on it. I said:

Hell no,
I ain't going to go.
Clean out my cell
And take my tail
To jail
Without bail
Because it's better there eating
Watching television fed
Than in Vietnam with your white folks dead."

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