Everyone should watch this great clip of Muhammad Ali talking about racism

Muhammad Ali, legendary three-time heavyweight champion of the world, has died aged 74.

BBC interviewer Michael Parkinson said of his encounters with the man:

When people ask me who I most enjoyed interviewing I am unable to give them an answer. When they ask me who was the most remarkable man I ever met, I answer without hesitation; Muhammad Ali.

I interviewed him four times. I lost on every occasion.

In 1971 Ali talked to Parkinson about racial tensions and unspoken segregation in America, about how despite his achievements, society refused to treat him as an equal.

He also talked humourously about how Western culture had historically placed whiteness and blackness as binary opposites of good and evil.

For instance, the consistent portrayal of Jesus as Caucasian:

Mother, how come is everything white? I said, why is Jesus white with blonde hair and blue eyes? Why is the Lord’s supper all white men?

I said, ‘Mother, when we die do we go to heaven?’ She said, ‘Naturally.’ I said, ‘Then what happened to all the black angels in those pictures?’

Or the character of Tarzan:

Tarzan is the king of the jungle in Africa… He was white.

This white man swinging round Africa with a diaper on hollering ‘AAAAAAH’.

So he’s beating them up and breaking the lion’s jaw, and Tarzan’s talking to the animals. The Africans have been there for centuries longer than he and yet can’t talk to the animals.

For a speech given 45 years ago, there are some prescient and hilarious observations in this six minute monologue about race, and why he decided to change his own name.

Watch the full video, below:

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