This Quote Sums Up Muhammad Ali's Bravery on Civil Rights

June 4th 2016

Boxing champion and civil rights icon Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74 on Friday, NBC News reports.

Ali is legend thanks to his audacious boxing style and massive list of accomplishments in the ring. But he was more than just a boxer, he was an outspoken champion of civil rights at a time when being such a thing required real bravery.

There's probably no greater example of the risks Ali was willing to take than when in 1967 he refused to be inducted into the United States military, an act of protest against the Vietnam War that led to him being stripped of his boxing licenses across the country. He was only 25-years-old at the time — a boxer at the peak of his career — and he lost the right to fight for three years because of what he believed in. 

After the public learned that Ali had been put on life support, fans naturally began celebrating his legacy. Twitter user Yousef Munayyer shared this quote from Ali about his objection to the war that still resonates to this day.

"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?

No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.

But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…

If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. But I either have to obey the laws of the land or the laws of Allah. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail. We’ve been in jail for four hundred years.” — Muhammad Ali

According to NBC News, Ali was surrounded by family at the time of his passing.

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