[In 1964, shortly after becoming the world heavyweight boxing champion, the boxer Cassius Marcellus Clay (named after a white abolitionist by that name) took the name Muhammad Ali, renouncing what he called his slave name. Two years later, the outspoken fighter caused outrage in the media when he petitioned for exemption from military service in Vietnam and then, when denied, refused to be drafted. As a result of his protest against the war, Ali's title was revoked and he was sentenced to a five-year prison term. Ali's battle against the sentence went to the U.S. Supreme Court and was not reversed until 1971. In 1966, Ali spoke in Louisville, Kentucky, his home town, about the reasons for not fighting in Vietnam.]
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. . . .