Eduardo Galeano: Ali

Galeano.MirrorsHe was butterfly and bee. In the ring, he floated and stung.

In 1967, Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay, refused to put on a uniform.

“Got nothing against no Viet Cong,” he said. “Ain’t no Vietnamese ever called me nigger.”

They called him a traitor. They sentenced him to a five-year jail term, and barred him from boxing. They stripped him of his title as champion of the world.

The punishment became his trophy. By taking away his crown, they anointed him king.

Years later, a few college students asked him to recite something. And for them he improvised the shortest poem in world literature:

“Me, we.”

From Mirrors (Nation Books, 2009), a history of humanity in 366 episodes

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