On the surface, Dr. Martin Luther King and Muhammad wouldn’t seem like two men that had a whole lot in common during the late 60s. In Ali you had a cocky, outspoken athlete in his prime who was a member of the controversial sect The Nation of Islam. In King, you had a charismatic Baptist minister who utilized Ghandi’s non-violence principles to fight racist oppression against African-Americans in the United States. One of the common grounds between these two men was their vehement opposition to the war in Vietnam, which in turn made them two of the more criticized figures in mainstream America.
During the final years of his life, Dr. King expanded his message beyond Civil Rights to the economic and political disparities facing all poor Americans. In the below clip, Dr. King has nothing but praise for Ali’s decision not to enlist for the Vietnam War. For many of us who didn’t live the era, it’s hard to imagine a time when King and Ali, two of the more saintly American icons of today, where among the most reviled individuals in mainstream America. Makes you wonder what they’d say about today’s politics.