UNDERSTANDING DIGNITY: A CELEBRATION OF TWO AMERICAN HEROES
“Late in the evening – long after the fight – after Sinatra gave his fight eulogy (for Ali) in the grand showroom and all the people applauded. I walked into the men’s room – on the first floor of Caesars (Palace) and there was an old Afro-American gentleman tending the bathroom and I said to the guy, “Do you mind if I ask you a question? Did you bet on the fight tonight?” He said, “Yes, I did.” I asked, “Do you mind telling me who you bet on?” And he looked at me and said, “I bet on Muhammad Ali.” I asked, “Do you mind telling me why?” He said, “Why? Because he gave me my dignity.” –Story told by legendary boxing writer Jerry Izenberg about the night Ali lost to Larry Holmes.
A few years back, at the height of Chris Rock’s popularity, he did an interview talking about America’s acceptance of his comedy. Rock said something along the lines of – there is always room for one black comedian in America; but only one at a time. He went on to say, if you notice, Pryor had his turn, then Cosby had his turn, then later Murphy, and now it’s my time; but never at the same time. Two would be too much for America.
The topic of America’s acceptance of black comedians is a subject for another blog post – but I think that Chris Rock’s “theory” could be applied to several other aspects of American society. I’ve been thinking a lot about that this weekend in a sort of different way. I’ve been thinking about two American heroes – both African American – and both celebrating birthday weekends: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Born January 15, 1929) and Muhammad Ali (January 17, 1942).
I’ve been wondering if they will both get the proper tributes that they deserve – or is it really true that America can only focusing on one black subject at a time. I’ve also been thinking about these two men and what was it that bought these two different – some would say vastly different – men to the forefront of the world.
Read my entire editorial by clicking HERE. Have a great holiday weekend!