The Hidden History of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali’s resistance to racism and war belongs not only to the 1960s, but the common future of humanity.

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Film footage of Muhammad Ali is used to sell everything from soft drinks to cars. The image we are spoon-fed is the improbably charismatic boxer, dancing in the ring and shouting “I am the greatest.”

The present Muhammad Ali is also a very public figure, despite his near total inability to move or speak. His voice has been silenced by both his years of boxing and Parkinson’s disease. This Ali has been embraced by the establishment as a walking saint.

In 1996, Ali was sent with his trembling hands to light the Olympic Torch in Atlanta. In 2002, he “agreed to star in a Hollywood-produced advertising campaign, designed to explain America and the war in Afghanistan to the Muslim world.”

Ali has been absorbed by the establishment as a legend — a harmless icon. There is barely a trace left of the controversial truth: There has never been an athlete more reviled by the mainstream press, more persecuted by the US government, or more defiantly beloved throughout the world than Muhammad Ali. There is now barely a mention of this Ali, who was the catalyst for bringing the issues of racism and war into professional sports.

The mere thought of athletes using their insanely exalted and hyper-commercialized platform to take stands against injustice is now almost unthinkable. Such actions would break the golden rule of big-time sports — “jocks” are not to be political, except when it comes to saluting the flag, supporting the troops, and selling war.

That is why, when Toni Smith, the basketball captain at little Division III Manhattanville College, turned her back on the flag in 2003, the attack was rabid. The same year, Wake Forest basketball All-American Josh Howard said about the US war on Iraq, “it’s all over oil…that’s how I feel.” Howard was not only derided publicly, but NBA draft reports stated, “Antiwar remarks reflect rumored erratic behavior.”

The hidden history of Muhammad Ali and the revolt of the black athlete in the 1960s is a living history. By reclaiming it from the powers that be, we can understand more than the struggles of the 1960s. We can see how struggle can shape every aspect of life under capitalism — even sports.

Fighting for Justice

No sport has chewed athletes up and spit them out — especially black athletes — quite like boxing. For the very few who “make it,” it is never the sport of choice. Boxing is for the poor, for people born at the absolute margins of society. Continue reading

Mississippi Goddam!

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For White Supremacists, is Mississippi the Diehard Confederacy or Anchor of the Ongoing Confederacy?

Mississippi declares April Confederate Heritage Month

A proclamation from Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declaring April as “Confederate Heritage Month,” is one that has appeared online in previous years, and similar to ones issued by previous administrations, a spokesman said.

Bryant’s proclamation appears on the website for the Mississippi division of the Sons of the Confederacy, but not on the governor’s official proclamation page, as reported by the Jackson Free Press Wednesday. The governor’s site allows users the ability to request proclamations.

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Question: When is shooting a 12-year-old child reasonable?

Answer: When the child is Black and the shooter is a police officer.

Welcome to America, where #BlackLivesMatter is a trending hashtag, but police impunity is a lethal reality of Black life.

There’s an old saying that the definition of a consultant is “someone who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is.” That is true when it comes to police experts as well.  Cops and prosecutors come from the same culture. So it surprises no one that the experts hired by Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty to investigate the fatal shooting of Tamir Rice are reading the time from the watch supplied by law enforcement and have come to the same conclusions as the county police and (let’s be honest) McGinty himself: that the shooting was “reasonable.”

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Tamir Rice, 12-year old, killed by police November 23, 2014

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“Red Nation” in New Mexico: “Native Lives Matter”

Cowboy, Rabbit and Border Town Violence

#BlackLivesMatter co-founder warns presidential candidates: ‘We will shut down every single debate

[This is another in series on electoral politics. In the US, every four years, presidential elections are theatrically staged, designed to confuse and disrupt popular movements against class exploitation and racial oppression, and other democratic movements. The elections claim to be the way democracy works, and people must vote for politicians to represent their interests. Whoever wins, the people’s interests have been lost in the shuffle, and their independence and political initiative and action has been suffocated or destroyed. As the 2016 election candidacies begin to control the political imaginations of millions, a fight-back begins to grow.  In this report of a Black Lives Matter protest at a Bernie Sanders campaign event, a BLM leader says no politician deserves automatic support (but leaves open the option for later). — Frontlines ed.]

Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City (Shuttershock)

Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City (Shuttershock)

“He couldn’t take 15 more minutes of the heat,” Cullors said of Sanders in an interview on This Week in Blackness, making reference to the senator ending his appearance as demonstrators at the event walked out en masse.

No Equality in Struggle for Basics

School Board Member Claims Hispanic Kids Don’t Need Air Conditioning

by William Bigelow, 8 Apr 2015
A recording of a school board meeting has gone viral after a Martinez school district school board member was recorded suggesting that a school largely comprised of low-income and Hispanic students could do without air conditioning while another school with mostly white, wealthier students should receive air conditioning.

From Brazil to Ferguson, Black Lives Matter

12/18/2014

Under the banner Ferguson is Here! #fergusonéaqui Thousands took the streets in Sao Paulo, Brazil in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests in the US.Foto: Midia NINJAToday’s event in Sao Paulo was to highlight the systemic police violence, the high rate of murders and the judicial injustices suffered when these crimes against black communities go unpunished.

In a report by the Brazilian Forum of Public Safety published on Nov. 9th 2014, Brazilian police killed 2,212 people in 2013.  Twice as many blacks as whites in Brazil were victims of police violence in 2009, according to a recent study by economist Daniel Cerqueira.

Another study by the University of Sao Carlos showed that even as blacks comprised 34 percent of the population of Sao Paulo, they numbered 58 percent of those killed by police.