I absolutely love the cartoon put together in Hidden Colors 3 showing all of the ways that Black folks in America have tried to be accepted. As society remembers Muhammad Ali and all of a sudden seem to love him so, history shows that he was not always loved. He was unapologetically Black.
“I’m defeating America’s so-called threats and enemies. And the flag is going dun-dun-dun-dun. I’m standing so proud.
And I’d have whooped the world for America. I took my gold medal, thought I’d invented something.
I said, “Man, I know I’m going to get my people freedom. I’m the champion of the whole world. Olympic champion. I know I can eat downtown now.”
And I went downtown that day, had my big gold medal on, and went in a restaurant.
And at that time, things weren’t integrated. Black folks couldn’t eat downtown. And I went downtown, I sat down, and I said, ‘A cup of coffee, a hotdog.’
The lady said, ‘We don’t serve Negroes.’ I was so mad, I said, ‘I don’t eat them either, just give me a cup of coffee and a hamburger.’
You know, I said, ‘I’m the Olympic gold medal-winner. I won three days, I fought for this country in Rome, I won the gold medal, and I’m going to eat.’
And I heard her tell the manager, and he said, ‘Well, he’s got to go out.’ They put me out.”
In the end, Muhammad Ali was comfortable in his skin. Something that it took me a great many years to learn, after going to the white churches, the white schools, getting the degree, and getting the office job.
I’ve noticed that my young brothers and sisters are still struggling with these same issues today. Be you, as the price of entry will always be far higher than you could ever pay.
But ask yourself this questions, “Why do you want to get “in” in the first place?”
I think Cassius Clay began to ponder that question himself and the rest as they say…is history.