Writing this opening proved to be an onerous task. I spent countless hours reading and editing the reflections of a diverse group of talented wordsmiths … and enjoyed every minute. As I prepare to watch the funeral of The Greatest, I reflect on his incalculable impact on those who came of age during the tumultuous 1960s and on the generations that followed. He commanded the world stage like no one before — or after — him by the sheer force of his indomitable will and magnetic personality, but never lost the common touch.
My brother Josh recalls an occasion when he and some friends were in the lobby of one of Manhattan’s major hotels shortly after Ali defeated Liston. Without missing a beat, the young superstar walked over to a group of nerdy White kids from the suburbs, put out his hand, and said, “Hi, my name is Cassius Clay and I’m the Heavyweight Champion of the World.” What a simple, magnificent gesture that captures the essence of a true man of the people … all people.
We miss you, Champ!
Thanks to the incredible team who curated this special package: Nikasi Doorn, Tayllor Johnson, and Kevin Powell. Original Muhammad Ali opening design by Marinique Mora.
Thanks to Kevin Powell who asked me for a contribution which can be found here.