“My enemy is the White people, not the Viet Cong, or the Chinese or Japanese. You my opressor when I want freedom. You my oppressor when I want justice. You my oppressor when I want equality. You wont even stand up for me in America for my religious beliefs and you want me to go somewhere and fight? But you wont even fight for me at home!”- Muhammad Ali
On this day, June 20,1967 Boxing World Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali was convicted in a Federal court for refusing the Selective Service Act, which called for young men of the age 18 and over to be “drafted” into the military in time of war. At the time we were at war in Vietnam.
For refusing to serve on the basis of his religious beliefs, and the Civil rights movement at the time, Ali declared himself a “Conscientious Objector” an individual who refuses military service on the grounds of freedom of thought or religious belief. In Islam, Muslims are against war unless declared by Allah and are not permitted to partake in wars commited by non believers.
Al was sentenced to five years in prison, stripped of his Heavyweight title, fined $10,000 and had his Boxing licence suspended for three years. Not serving any time his conviction was eventually overturned due to the inability to deny his “Conscientious objector” status.
Along with the Vietnamese themselves, Ali and others believed Blacks had no place in that war, nor others by the American government due to the treatment of Black soldiers and Blacks in America in general. His brash character, views against the War and career as a fighter was the fire the Civil Rights movement needed to set the country ablaze.