June 28, 2016

painting of Ali by pop artist John Stango
By John Stango, CC BY-SA 3.0
The dedication in this book reads: “To all those with the courage to take a stand.” For Muhammad Ali in 1966, that stand was his refusal to be drafted into the Army to fight what he considered an unjust war in Vietnam. Ali’s refusal was based on religious grounds; he repeatedly stated that, as a Muslim, he was not to take part in any wars “unless declared by Allah or The Messenger.” This book, originally published in 2000, takes an in-depth look at the five-year legal battle which ensued, resulting in Ali being stripped of his titles and banned from the sport during the peak of his boxing career. While his case wound its way through the legal system on its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ali endured illegal wiretapping and surveillance by the FBI, continued outright racism, death threats, and nearly universal condemnation in the media. However, in 1971 the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Ali, relying on a delicate legal theory which would make any litigator proud. The “behind the scenes” story of the Supreme Court’s deliberations on this case are as compelling as the man whose freedom was at stake, and were the focus of the 2013 HBO film of the same name. Both this book, and the HBO film, come highly recommended for anyone interested in this turbulent period of our history.

Originally appeared in our newsletter of November 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment