Ali Says NO!
Of course, we would have said hell NO! Well, I’m speaking for myself!
Why is this relevant today?
55 years ago on Thursday, April 28th, 2022 it will be fifty-five years since GOAT aka the “Greatest Athlete of the 20th Century” told the U.S. Government to stand down. Ali knew he was not a citizen and a second-class citizen at best. He understood that he and his people did not have the full benefits of white Americans and felt those who did, should fight for them. So, the question becomes, what was Black military personnel fighting for?
My guess is that our very essence is germane to a remix of mixed messages that leads to questions like: Are we fighting “For the Right to Fight” just to be included in the U.S. Military, or “Fighting for our Rights? It would seem worth fighting in America’s “WARS” if we did not have to come home to be subjected to 21st-century campaigns like “Black Lives Matter in a country where we have earned our citizenship above and beyond and forevermore.”
The inspiration for this editorial is an event that transpired in our great city, called African Amerian Heritage Night at the San Diego Padres this year. Originally circa 2013, a group of San Diego business class and local political VIPs ventured to celebrate with the San Diego Padres in African American Heritage Night fashion.
It was a disaster!
To be real honest, you can’t gather up a bunch of testosterone, mix it with a group of Neo-liberals, garnish it with a few Neo-conservatives (Black Preachers), put it on a plate, have it served by Nouveau Activist (testosterone on steroids) while the Black woman (will remain anonymous) in charge was being intimidated, bombarded and extremely embarrassed by all of their berating and manipulation. But to make a long and dumb story short; wanting her and the Padres to water the night down to merely Jackie Robinson night! Augh…that was a mouth full!
Why is this significant?
The above effort, to say the least, was defuncted and died as quickly as it started.
Moving forward to 2015, I decided to re-establish the night by meeting with the Padres. I passed the torch to a local legendary businesswoman named Clara Carter, who got it done in the grandest fashion and did so for 2 more years.
AND grand it was. African American Heritage Night 2015-2017 under Carter’s tenure included a Padre historian, a ceremony for Negro Leaguers, a field tribute to African American local achievers, the National Anthem, the first pitch, and a book signing with local and internationally known artist Kadir Nelson, along with a special tribute to John Ritchey’s legacy, topped off with a list of marquee honors during game time and much more.
Link for John Richey History READ HERE
Here’s the point:
Branch Rickey Brooklyn Dodger General Manager in 1947, searched for a Black player who in his words “A good baseball player and a Gentleman.” Jackie Robinson was his man. Rickey went on to say “He wanted a man who had the “GUTS TO NOT FIGHT BACK.”
So what did that mean, for other Black Negro Leaguers?
1. That they were too aggressive and did not have GUTS? 2. Knew their value and worth? 3. They were satisfied with playing for Black team owners? 4. The others were not gentlemen?
The white press called Mr. Robinson a Pacifist! The definition of a Pacifist: A. Is a person who believes that war and violence are unjustifiable.
So why would Jackie speak out against Muhammad Ali’s Pacifism?
SDMNEWS celebrates true courage, GUTS, true patriotism, and true pacifism, And That Would be Muhammad Ali, not Jackie Robinson. The double standard of Jackie’s legacy is not to say that Jackie didn’t have convictions on white America’s treatment of African Americans; he was vocal about them. However, Jackie’s hypocrisy wasn’t courage. It was comfortable. To Ali’s credit (as Branch said and I quote) Ali also had the GUTS TO NOT FIGHT. Indeed that was true pacifism.
As this applies to the San Diego Padre’s AA Heritage Night 2022 turned into a Jackie Robinson Day tribute. Which was in my opinion no honor and certainly no collective heritage. Neither is a Jackie Robinson day cover the enormous contribution that Black men and women collectively gave to America’s game and favorite pastime. The Boys of Summer has been romanticized so much as of course to whitewash the sunshine sport. I give honor where honor is due to men like Jim Brown and others who supported Ali’s decision and Guts to not fight in Vietnam.
The Cleveland Summit as it’s called was formed by Cleveland Brown’s legendary running back Jim Brown who took Muhammad Ali’s plea seriously and his right to stand for his beliefs in a time when Ali’s very livelihood was the casualty. These courageous men put all of their careers on the frontline to endorse a stance that for one Black American man who was on June 4th, 1967, unapologetically Black.
Several years before Muhammad’s stance it was Paul Robeson; the consummate patriot! More than MLK Day, and Juneteenth, Black folks should lobby for a National Day for Paul Robeson. Robeson, an Attorney, Athlete, internationally known Actor, Bass Singer, and Human Rights Activist; accepted Jackie’s assimilation and that in the trade for playing in a white man’s league, Robinson had to denounce Ali’s and Robeson’s pacifism, GUTS, and their version of “REAL COURAGE”.
It is beyond time for Black America and its sports figures to recapture the valor and courage of their true legacy. If we are to truly pay homage to greatness, my stance is that we start by telling the truth, not just for the sake of it, but to show America’s finest city, in the words of Rube Foster (Negro League Founder and Hall of Fame Pitcher) “We Are The Ship.”
The San Diego Monitor-News has been serving Black San Diego since 1986