FBI files on boxing champion Muhammad Ali reveal that the famous fighter was not the civil rights icon the media portrayed him to be.
Ali was known as Cassius Clay before converting to Islam in the ’60s. His associations with the black activist Nation of Islam group and its leaders leaders Elijah Mohammad and Malcolm X brought him to the attention of the FBI, which at the time viewed the group as a threat.
The files, which comprise more than 200 pages, revealed Ali as a racist who referred to white people as “white devils” and “crackers” and indicated that the Nation of Islam’s hatred for white people was “violent.”
Ali told an audience at a mosque that “black women have the best sons and daughters in the world,” that “the so-called negro is the original man and is superior to the white devil” and that he would rather be with his own people than “blue-eyed devil white people.”
Wow. It doesn’t get more racist than that. But there’s more:
The files also reported that the boxer said the American flag “represented death and destruction” while the “Muslim flag” represents “life and prosperity, justice for all black men.” According to Ali, programs to achieve integration were “useless” and the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a “swindle.”
He also said that he would rather die or go to jail than serve in the U.S. Army, the files said.
This image certainly isn’t the one the media presented when the three-time heavyweight champion died last year, yet it deserves to be known, especially as his family attempts to present him as a civil-rights hero by launching a national campaign in his honor to combat racial and religious profiling.
Those efforts seem to be misplaced, as it appears Ali was anything but a champion of racial tolerance.
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