MetroFocus: September 16, 2021

“MUHAMMAD ALI”

Tonight, a sneak peak at the upcoming four-part PBS documentary series on the life of the man many regard as the most significant athlete of the 20th century, three-time boxing heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.

Directed and produced by Ken Burns and his daughter Sarah Burns, and David McMahon, the series shows in vivid historical footage how Ali’s life intersected with some of the most profound changes in the nation’s history- from civil rights, to the anti-war movement, to the recognition of Islam as an important American religion. The documentary of this icon of Black America also comes at a time of heightened awareness and questions around the ongoing fight for racial equality, equity, and justice. Tonight Ken Burns and Rasheda Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter and a collaborator on the film join us to discuss his life and legacy.

For more information on “Muhammad Ali,” click here.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> MOHAMMED ALI WAS AN ACTIVIST WHO FOUGHT TO MOVE AMERICA IN A CERTAIN WAY.

THERE WAS GOING TO BE AN ENORMOUS PRICE TO PAY FOR THAT.

BOXING WAS THIS MUCH OF HIS EVOLUTION, THE PERSON HE IS TODAY IS WAY BIGGER.

THE PRICE OF FREEDOM COMES HIGH.

I HAVE PAID, BUT I AM FREE.

MOHAMED ALI STARTS SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 18th OF THE 7:00 P.M.

CENTRAL ONLY ON PBS.

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

THAT WAS A SNEAK PEEK AT THE NEW FOUR-PART DOCUMENTARY SERIES AIRING ON PBS ON THE LIFE OF THE MAN MANY REGARD AS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ATHLETE OF THE 20th CENTURY, THREE-TIME BOXING HEAVY WEIGHT CHAMPION MOHAMED ALI.

THE SERIES SHOWS USING VIVID HISTORICAL FOOTAGE AND INTERVIEWS HOW ALI'S LIFE INTERSECTED WITH AND INDEED IMPACTED SOME OF THE MOST PROFOUND CHANGES IN THE NATION'S HISTORY.

FROM CIVIL RIGHTS, THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT TO THE RECOGNITION OF ISLAM AS AN IMPORTANT RELIGION.

THE DOCUMENTARY IS THIS ICONIC FIGURE ALSO COMES AS A TIME OF HEIGHTENED AWARENESS AND QUESTIONS SURROUNDING THE ONGOING FIGHT FOR RACIAL EQUALITY, EQUITY AND JUSTICE IN THIS NATION.

JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THESE ISSUES AND HOW THEY RELATE NOT JUST TO THE LIFE OF MOHAMED ALI, BUT TO IMPORTANT CONVERSATIONS WE'RE HAVING TODAY IS PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR KEN BURNS AND ALSO RASHEDA ALI, WHO IS MOHAMED ALI'S DAUGHTER.

WELCOME.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, BOTH OF YOU, FOR JOINING US HERE.

THANKS AGAIN FOR HAVING ME.

OKAY.

LET ME START WITH THE FIRST QUESTION THAT IS ALWAYS ASKED OF FILM MAKERS, WHICH IS WHY THIS SUBJECT AND WHY NOW?

WELL, THERE IS NO WHY NOW, JACK, BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, FOR US IT TAKES SEVEN OR EIGHT YEARS.

SO THE NOW FOR US WAS SAYING YES TO THIS WITH ALL OUR HEARTS BACK IN 2013 AND BEGINNING IN 2014 AND DOING A LOT OF SHOOTING THEN.

BUT I UNDERSTAND.

THERE ARE LOTS OF DOCUMENTARIES ON MOHAMED ALI AND SOME EXCELLENT ONES.

NOBODY HAD YET DONE ONE THAT WAS SOUP TO NUTS.

THAT WAS TO SAY BEGINNING WITH HIS BIRTH AND BOYHOOD IN SEGREGATED KENTUCKY ALL THE WAY TO HIS DEATH FROM PARKINSON'S FIVE YEARS AGO.

AND TOUCHING NOT JUST ON THE BOXING CAREER BUT ALL THESE ISSUES.

HE INTERSECTED BACK THEN WITH THE ISSUES OF RACE, OF THE ROLE OF SPORTS, OF THE ROLE OF THE BLACK ATHLETE, THE DEFINITION OF BLACK MASCULINITY AND BLA BLACKMAN -- BLACK MANHOOD.

AS WE SEE, ACTIVISM AND THE RENEWAL OF THE QUESTIONS ABOUT RACIAL JUSTICE AND RACIAL EQUITY, HE'S AT THE FOREFRONT OF ALL.

ALL OF THE ATHLETES THAT WE SPEAK OF.

BUT EVERYBODY ELSE REALIZES THAT IN MANY WAYS THEY'RE STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF HIS FIGHT FOR FREEDOM FOR HIMSELF.

BUT NOT ONLY THAT FOR HIS PEOPLE, HIS COURAGE.

NOT JUST IN THE RING BUT IN THE FACE OF TAKING A STAND AGAINST THE VIETNAM WAR AND HIS LOVE.

AND I THINK PEOPLE FORGET, RASHEDA UNDERSTANDS THIS IN HER BONES, THAT THE BIGGEST COMPONENT OF THIS IS THE LOVE PART OF IT.

IT IS HARD FOR US TO TALK ABOUT BECAUSE IT IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD WE'RE ALLOWED TO SAY BUT DIFFICULT TO TALK ABOUT.

SO THE DOCUMENTARY IS AN ATTEMPT TO PUT AN ARM AROUND ALL OF THESE THINGS AND INTERRELATE THEM IN A WAY, SO YOU JUST DON'T MENTION HE'S A MEMBER OF THE NATION OF ISLAM.

YOU GO INTO HIS HISTORY AND UNDERSTAND IT.

IT ISN'T JUST A FIXED THING, OH, HE WAS THIS.

HE WAS MANY THINGS AND THAT SPIRITUAL JOURNEY IS CENTRAL TO THIS, AS IS THE FIGHTS.

YOU CANNOT BELIEVE THE DRAMA.

THAT'S A GREAT WAY TO CAPTURE IT.

AGAIN, I'M SOMEBODY, I'M JUST TWO YEARS YOUNGER MAN HIM, SO I LIVED THROUGH HIS YEARS EMERGING AS AN OLYMPIC HERO AND IN THE STRUGGLES AFTERWARDS AND AT THE FIGHTS.

I WAS AT ONE OF THEM, AND THEY ARE ENORMOUS DRAMA.

NOT JUST WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE SQUARED CIRCLE BUT EVERYTHING SURROUNDING IT BECAUSE IT WAS MOHAMED ALI.

HE MADE EVERY FIGHT A DRAMA.

AND IT ISN'T JUST ABOUT WHAT MAKES PLACE AS YOU'RE SUGGESTING IN THE RING.

IT IS ALSO WHAT TAKES PLACE IN THE WAY HE SETS IT UP.

HE'S SORT OF BOTH THE PLAY WRIGHT AS WELL AS THE PARTICIPANT.

AND THERE IS A WONDERFUL DRAMA.

AND EACH ONE HAS ITS DIFFERENT CHARACTERS.

THE FIRST LIST IN, YOU COULDN'T TELL A HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER, THE RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE, THE THRILL IN VANILLA AND SOME LESSER KNOWNS BUT JUST MASTERPIECES.

AS THE BOXER MICHAEL BEN SAYS THE PICASSOS.

LEONARDODY VINCHY.

WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT?

THIS MAN IS YOUR FATHER AND YOU HAVE LIVED WITH HAVING A LEGEND AS A FATHER.

AND AS KEN DESCRIBED THIS, AND IT IS JUST A MARVELOUS FILM.

BUT IT IS A SWEEPING PORTRAIT.

IT IS NOT A DOCUMENTARY ON THE SUPREME COURT DIAL.

IT IS A SWEEPING PORTRAIT OF THE MAN AND HIS LIFE AND HIS FLAWS AND HIS FRAILTIES.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE IDEA OF TELLING THIS STORY NOW?

YOU KNOW, AS, FIRST OF ALL, JACK, THANKS FOR HAVING US ON TODAY.

I TEXTED KEN AFTER I SAW THE FOUR PART SERIES.

AND I COULDN'T HELP BUT TO REMIND HIM THAT -- AND I THANKED HIM AND SARA AND DAVID McMAN AS WELL FOR CAPTURING THE ESSENCE OF MY DAD.

THIS STORY IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT STORY TO TELL.

IT'S A HUMAN STORY.

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT IS A GREAT AFRICAN-AMERICAN STORY ABOUT OUR STRUGGLES AND WHAT HE DID WITH THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS THAT WAS HANDED TO HIM.

AND IT IS A COMPLETE STORY, WHICH IS ONE OF THE SELLING POINTS THAT I USE TO BE ABLE TO COME ONBOARD WITH THIS PROJECT.

SARA REACHED OUT TO ME EARLY IN THE PRODUCTION PROCESS.

SHE HAD MENTIONED THAT AND I'VE SEEN SOME DOCUMENTARIES WHERE I'M LIKE, I CAN'T DO ANOTHER ONE.

BUT SARA MENTIONED THIS IS GOING TO BE A DOCUMENTARY THAT'S A COMPREHENSIVE LOOK TO MY DAD AS A MUSLIM, AS A POET, AS AN ABOUT I HAVETIST, AS A BROTHER, AS A FATHER.

AND I WAS LIKE, WHOA, THAT'S FANTASTIC BECAUSE A LOT OF DOCUMENTARIES, YOU KNOW, AND LIKE KEN SAID THERE IS SOME REALLY, REALLY GOOD ONES OUT THERE THAT I'VE SEEN, BUT I THINK THIS PARTICULAR ONE IS REALLY THE WHOLE ENTIRE STORY.

SO IF YOU THINK, YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW MY DAD AND YOU ARE A FAN AND YOU FOLLOWED ALL HIS LIFE OUTSIDE OF THE RING, THERE IS GOING TO BE SOMETHING IN THE STORY THAT YOU MISSED OR THERE IS GOING TO BE A PART OF THE STORY THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW.

AND THAT'S WHAT I LOVED ABOUT THIS STORY.

SOME THINGS AREN'T THAT FLATTERING.

MY DAD WASN'T PERFECT.

YOU ALL KNOW THAT.

BUT NONE OF US ARE.

WHAT MAKES -- AND I TOLD KEN.

I SAID MY DAD WASN'T PERFECT, BUT HE WAS CONSTANTLY EVOLVING INTO A BETTER MAN.

HE WAS ALSO VERY -- HE WAS CHANGING, LIKE HIS PHILOSOPHIES AND THE THINGS THAT HE THOUGHT WHEN HE WAS IN HIS 20s WAS VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE WAY HE THOUGHT IN HIS 50s.

SO, AGAIN, IF YOU ARE NOT CHANGING AND IF YOU ARE NOT BETTERING YOURSELF, THEN WHAT'S THE POINT, RIGHT?

SO MY DAD WAS ALWAYS -- AND IN THIS FILM YOU SEE HIM EVOLVING AND BECOMING BETTER AND BETTER AS TIME GOES ALONG.

IT IS INTERESTING YOU SAY THAT WAS I HAVE SEEN ATHLETES WHO USE THE EXPRESSION THAT APPLIES DIRECTLY WHAT TO YOU SAID.

IF YOU ARE NOT GETTING BETTER EACH DAY, YOU ARE ACTUALLY LOSING.

RIGHT.

THAT'S RIGHT.

AND YOU'RE DESCRIBING HIM EVOLVING EACH DAY.

KEN, IN TERMS OF PUTTING THIS TOGETHER, AGAIN, I'M ALWAYS FASCINATED BY WHAT'S THIS GOING TO LOOK LIKE.

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DRAW US IN HERE?

I'M NOT GIVING A LOT AWAY, BUT THE FIRST SCENE STARTS WITH ONE OF HIS YOUNG DAUGHTERS.

OKAY.

SO -- SO --

TELL ME THE SCENE AND TELL ME --

THIS IS WHAT WE'RE GOING TO START WITH.

SET IT UP.

IT'S A GOOD STORY.

SO FOR MOST OF THE EDITING, THE SCENE THAT I'M ABOUT TO DESCRIBE WAS SAFELY AND PERFECTLY PLACED DEEP INTO EPISODE THREE OF FOUR.

AND IT WORKED THERE PERFECTLY.

WE ALL LOVED IT.

WE BASICALLY STOPPED THINKING ABOUT IT AS ANYTHING WE HAD TO WORK ON.

IT WAS -- IT WAS WORKING AS WHAT WE SAY IN THE EDITING ROOM, WHICH IS THE HIGHEST THING YOU CAN SAY.

BUT I ALSO FELT THAT HANNAH, RASHEDA'S SISTER WAS ALONE IN THE BEGINNING WITH THE SENSE OF BEING A BABY AND HEARING THE ECHOES OF THE CHEERS FOR HER FATHER AS HE'S CARRYING HER ACROSS AIRPORTS AND INTO AUDITORIUMS AND THINGS LIKE THAT.

AND I REALIZED THAT EVERYBODY KNOWS HIM AS A BOXER.

EVERYBODY PRESUMES THERE IS CONVENTIONAL WISDOM.

SO I SAID LET'S TAKE THIS SCENE AND OPEN IT AT THE BEGINNING.

THERE IS NO FIGHT.

NOBODY DISAGREED.

IT IS LIKE, OKAY, LET'S TRY IT.

YOU HEAR IT IN BLACK.

IT STARTS IN NO PICTURE BECAUSE THERE IS NOT PICTURE.

AND YOU HEAR THIS, YOU KNOW, YOU HEAR THIS MAN'S VOICE.

YOU DON'T KNOW IT'S HIM.

AND HE SAID, WHAT DO YOU WANT.

AND SHE SAYS, I WANT CORN FLAKES.

THEN THE PICTURE COMES ON.

THERE IS A LITTLE GIRL AND SHE'S SITTING IN THE DINER WITH HER FATHER AND THERE IS A PLATE OF CORN FLAKES.

SHE IS STARTING TO EAT, AND IT'S THE OLDER SISTER, HIS FIRST BORN.

AND HE SAYS, LOOK OVER THERE, LOOK OUT THE WINDOW.

AND EVERY PARENT KNOWS ABOUT STEALING FOOD FROM THEIR KID, RIGHT?

ABSOLUTELY.

THEY ORDER THE FRENCH FRIES BUT YOU WANT ONE, RIGHT?

HE GOES, NO, THERE IS A WHITE HORSE OVER THERE.

YOU GOT TO LOOK.

MIRIAM GETS UP THERE AND HE TAKES A BITE OF THE CORN FLAKES AND PUTS IT DOWN.

SHE TURNS AROUND AND SHE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT SHE'S DONE.

SO SHE REACHES OVER AND SHRUGS HIM AND HE COMES IN FOR A BIG KISS AND EMBRACE AND THEN THE FILM BEGINS AND YOU HEAR THE CHANT OF THE CROWD GOING, ALI, ALI.

WHAT WE WERE TRYING TO SAY IS WE WANTED TO TELL THE WHOLE -- THIS IS A HUMAN BEING.

YES, HE'S LARGER LAN LIFE.

BUT THIS IS THE MYTH LOGICAL STORY IN WHICH WE CAN LEARN.

THIS IS WHY WE HAVE GREAT GREEK MYTH THOLDIES.

OUR LIVES ARE LARGER THAN THEIRS.

ALL THESE THINGS THAT WE DISCUSSED AND ALL THE THINGS THAT RASHIDA EMBODIES IN OUR CAPACIOUS HEART.

BUT YOU WANT TO REMEMBER HE'S FLESH AND BLOOD.

HE'S LIKE YOU AND ME.

THERE IS NOT A PARENT ON EARTH THAT HASN'T GONE, LOOK OVER THERE AND STOLEN SOMETHING FROM THEIR KID.

AND IT'S JUST -- TO ME, ONE FINAL THING.

WE FOUND ANOTHER LITTLE SCENE TO FIT IN WHERE IT WORKED IN EPISODE THREE AND IT'S ALL GOOD.

BUT IT HELPED, I THINK, BALANCE THE FILM.

I THINK IT SHOWED THAT YOU CAN BE AN ICON, BUT YOU CAN ALSO BE AN EVERY PERSON.

YES.

AND, KEN, AS YOU SAID, IT IS FUNNY BECAUSE I WATCHED THE FILM AND JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS BEFORE I HAD TWO OF MY GRANDCHILDREN, MY SIX-YEAR-OLD AND MY THREE-YEAR-OLD AND MY THREE-YEAR-OLD GRANDSON, WE WERE HAVING LUNCH.

AND I DID THE SAME THING.

AND I STOLE HIS FRENCH FRIES.

THE SIX-YEAR-OLD SAYS, WHY DO YOU FALL FOR THAT ALL THE TIME?

BUT IT SAYS.

WE TALKED ABOUT SHAKESPEAREAN, BUT IT DOES HUMANIZE THEM.

LET ME GET TO A COUPLE BIG ISSUES HERE AND I WANT YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT.

YOU TALK IN THE FILM VERY CAREFULLY ABOUT THE NOTION THAT THE ADDLATION WAS NOT ALWAYS ATTACHED TO HIM.

AND HE WAS, INDEED, AMONG SOME PEOPLE REVILED EARLY ON IN HIS CAREER.

KEN, WHY WAS THAT?

FOR PEOPLE -- THEIR GENERATION WILL WATCH THIS THAT ONLY KNEW THE ADDLATION.

HE DID DIE THE MOST BELOVED PERSON ON THE PLANET.

THAT'S AN ASPIRATION THAT ALL OF US SHOULD HAVE AND NONE OF US ARE GOING TO HAVE.

WE SHOULD ACCEPT IT AND GET OVER IT.

MOHAMED ALI IS THERE, HIS EXAMPLE IS THERE THAT WE CAN AT LEAST ASPIRE TO THAT.

BUT THERE WAS A TIME WHEN, AS YOU SAID, THERE WAS A GREAT DEAL OF HATRED.

YOU CAN UNPACK AND I WILL USE A BASEBALL METAPHOR.

HERE IS A GUY AT THE BEGINNING OF HIS PROFESSIONAL LIFE IS NOT BEHAVING THE WAY AN ATHLETE SHOULD BEHAVE.

HE'S PROUD OF HIMSELF.

HE'S RECITING POETRY AND HE'S A BLACK MAN.

STRIKE ONE.

THEN WHEN HE WINS THE CHAMPIONSHIP IN '64, HE ANNOUNCES HE'S IN THE NATION OF ISLAM, A SEPARATIST RELIGIOUS SECT.

THEN THEY BESTOW ON HIM A NEW NAME: MOMHAMED ALI.

PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO ACCEPT THAT, SO HE IS STRIKE TWO.

AND THEN, OF COURSE, HE REFUSES INDUCTION INTO THE MILITARY, THE UNITED STATES ARMY, DURING THE VOIETNAM WAR.

WE FORGET HOWDY VICIVE HE WAS.

I WOULD SUGGEST WE WERE DIVISIVE.

HE WAS FOLLOWING HIS OWN PATH.

CERTAINLY THERE IS A LOT ABOUT HIM THAT'S PROVOCATIVE AND IN YOUR CHASE AND CHALLENGING BASIC ASSUMPTIONS.

TO THAT EXTENT IT IS ARGUMENTATIVE AT WORSE, BUT HE'S FOLLOWING HIS HEART.

HE'S BEING RESOLUTELY HIMSELF.

AND, SO, WE JUST TAKE HIS REFUSAL TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE ARMY AS A POLITICAL GESTURE, KIND OF POLITICAL, YOU KNOW, AS A MIDDLE FINGER TO THE U.S. OR THE U.S. REACTS THAT WAY.

BUT WHO IS TELLING US THAT?

WHO IS TELLING US THAT THAT'S THE WAY WE SHOULD BE?

HE'S FOLLOWING A FAITH DECISION.

THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS.

IT NCOMPASSES AND BEGINS TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE ONLY WAY HE WILL SURVIVE WHEN HIS LIVELIHOOD IS TAKEN AWAY FROM HIM, HE'S GOING TO HAVE TO GO ON THE COLLEGE CAMPUSES AND SPEAK AND DO ALL THAT AND HE BECOMES A HERO TO THE PEOPLE OPPOSED TO THE WAR IN VIETNAM.

BY THE TIME HE GETS BACK INTO BOXING, PEOPLE BEGIN TO REALIZE HE WAS RIGHT.

NOT ONLY WAS HE RIGHT, HE WAS WILLING TO SACRIFICE EVERYTHING FOR A BELIEF.

THIS WASN'T POLITICS.

THIS WAS LIFE.

ALL OF A SUDDEN, THAT'S THE BEGINNING.

HE LOSES, BUT IT IS THE BEGINNING OF HIS REHABILITATION.

AND THEN THAT JUST CONTINUES UP TO THE VERY END.

AND WHEN RASHIDA SAYS AT THE END OF THE FILM, BOXING WAS THIS MUCH.

HE COULD HAVE BEEN A SIMPLE CARPENTER, AND WE KNOW WHERE THAT LEADS.

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE PBS DOCUMENTARY ON MOHAMED ALI.

CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS FOR THE AIRINGS ON THAT.

RASHIDA, FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE AS A CHILD, AND KEN TALKED ABOUT THE TRAJECTORY, IF YOU WILL, OF PEOPLE HAVING PROBLEMS WITH KASHS CLAY, THEN MOHAMED ALI AND THEN BECOMING, WHEN HE DIED, THE MOST BELOVED MAN ON THE PLANET.

SO FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, DID YOU FEEL THAT AS YOU WERE A CHILD AND GROWING UP?

DID YOU FEEL AT SOME POINT IN TIME A PALPABLE HATRED AND THEN THAT TRANSFORMS INTO THIS LOVE AND KEN SAID IT WAS THAT AND ADDLATION?

YEAH.

WELL, SO, FIRST OF ALL, TO PIGGYBACK OFF OF WHAT KEN SAID ABOUT HOW HE SACRIFICED, YOU KNOW, HIS CAREER IN ALL OF THESE THINGS BECAUSE HE STOOD FOR SOMETHING.

HE HAD TRUE CONVICTION AND IT WAS HIS RELIGION THAT HE HAD MENTIONED THAT HE'LL FACE GUNFIRE FOR THAT DAY IF IT MEANT THAT IN DENOUNCING HIS RELIGION.

THAT'S THE KIND OF CONVICTION AND PASSION THAT MY DAD HAD.

AND JUST TO, YOU KNOW, INFORM A LOT OF THE PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T GROW UP DURING THAT TIME OR DIDN'T WATCH MY DAD IN ACTION BECAUSE I KNOW, JEFF, YOU HAVE, BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, YOUNGER GENERATION, THEY WEREN'T FORTUNATE TO BE ABLE TO WATCH THAT WHOLE STORY UNFOLD RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES AND, YOU KNOW, IN FRONT OF THE TELEVISION AND THE RADIO AND THE NEWSPAPERS.

BUT MY DAD WAS IN HIS PRIME AT THE TIME THAT HE DECIDED THAT HE WASN'T GOING TO GO INTO, YOU KNOW, INTO THE WAR.

AND HE -- I THINK IT WAS 1966, THE CLEVELAND WILLIAMS FIGHT.

THAT'S THE BEST THAT WE'VE SEEN OUR DAD.

WE'VE NEVER SEEN HIM BETTER THAN THAT BECAUSE HE HAD SACRIFICED ALL OF THOSE YEARS INCLUDING FIVE YEARS IN PRISON.

AND THIS WAS KIND OF THE CHARGE AGAINST HIM AND $10,000.

YOU FIND OUT THESE THINGS AND AT A TIME WHERE MY DAD WAS REALLY STRUGGLING.

HE WAS A YOUNG FATHER.

HE HAD JUST GOTTEN MARRIED, AND HE COULDN'T PAY THE BILLS.

I MEAN, WE WERE STRUGGLING.

WE LIVED IN A LITTLE HOUSE.

WE WERE STRUGGLING, AND MY DAD COULD NOT MAKE ENDS MEET BECAUSE OF THE, YOU KNOW, THE INABILITY TO FIGHT.

AND YOU'LL SEE IN THE FILM THAT EVERYONE REJECTED HIM.

NO STATE WANTED HIM.

EVERYONE THOUGHT HE WAS UNPATRIOTIC.

SO, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU WATCH THIS PERSON GIVING UP THE MOST IMPORTANT THING AT A TIME WHERE, YOU KNOW, THEY DIDN'T HAVE PR COMPANIES PROMOTING ATHLETES AT THE TIME.

MY DAD WAS HIS PR PERSON.

SO HE HAD ACTUALLY BROUGHT -- I TALKED TO KEN ABOUT THIS EARLIER TODAY.

HE ACTUALLY BROUGHT EXCITEMENT AND ENERGY TO A FIELD THAT PEOPLE REALLY -- THE MAINSTREAM REALLY DIDN'T WATCH BOXING AT THAT TIME, BUT HE MADE IT SO MAGICAL.

HE BROUGHT MOST PEOPLE LIKE YOUNGER PEOPLE, OLDER PEOPLE, WHATEVER COLOR RACE, HE WAS SO EXCITING.

WE TALK ABOUT SHAKESPEARE.

I ALWAYS COMPARE MY DAD TO A SHAKESPEARE ACTOR BECAUSE HE'S ALWAYS PERFORMING AND HE'S GIVING A SHOW.

SO HIS PERFORMANCE IN THE RING AND OUT MADE -- HE TRANSCENDED BOXING BECAUSE HE MADE IT SO ACCESSIBLE TO EVERY SINGLE PERSON THAT PEOPLE JUST WANTED TO WATCH.

THEY COULD NOT TAKE THEIR EYES OFF OF HIM.

SO AT A TIME WHILE HE WAS AT HIS BEST, HE WAS WILLING TO SACRIFICE ALL OF THAT FOR A CAUSE.

AND GROWING UP WATCHING MY DAD, HE LIVED BY EXAMPLE.

SO AS KIDS, HE STARTED TO SAY, YOU KNOW, HE SACRIFICED TIME WITH US BECAUSE HE WAS CHANGING THE WORLD AT A YOUNG AGE.

AND WHEN WE LOOK AT THAT AND WE LOOK AT WHAT OUR DAD DID AND HOW HE DID IT, THAT WAS A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR US.

HE SET A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR US BECAUSE ANY TIME YOU'RE IN A MAJOR TRIAL, TRIBULATION, YOU CAN ALWAYS GO TO MY DAD'S STORY AND SAY, WELL, THAT IS GOING TO BE A DIFFICULT DECISION.

BUT IF YOU HAVE A CLEAR RIGHT AND WRONG DECISION, YOU KNOW IT IS NOT GOING TO BE ALWAYS EASY TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION, BUT YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT.

BRINGS US BACK.

SO AS YOUNG PEOPLE, HOW MUCH ARE YOU WILLING TO SACRIFICE?

WHAT DOES THAT REALLY MEAN TO YOU?

LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION ABOUT PRODUCING THIS AND THEN A COUPLE WRAP-UP QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK THE BOTH OF YOU.

AT ONE OF THE MEDIA GATHERINGS, KEN, YOU WERE ASKED ABOUT THE IDEA OF OR THE SUGGESTION BY SOMEBODY, SHOULD A PERSON OF COLOR BE THE ONE WHO IS TELLING THIS STORY ABOUT AN ICONIC BLACK MAN?

NOW, WE ALL KNOW YOU CAN -- TODAY WE SHOULD JUST SAY AN ICONIC MAN WHO HAPPENED TO BE BLACK.

BUT THIS QUESTION WAS POSED TO YOU.

AND THEN YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE BASIC PREMISE BEHIND THAT QUESTION.

TELL US WHAT YOU SAID SGLI'M IN THE BUSINESS OF HISTORY.

I'VE BEEN DOING IT FOR 50 YEARS.

I LOVE EVERY PART.

AND THE KIND OF HISTORY WE WERE INTERESTED IN IS A DEEP DIVE INTO ALL OF HISTORY.

I HAVE, THROUGHOUT MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE TRIED TO TELL THE STORY OF THIS COUNTRY IN AN INCREDIBLY INCLUSIVE WAY, WHICH MEANS WE'RE GOING TO BE TALKING ABOUT RICE THAT'S AT THE HEART OF IT AND TELLING STORIES FROM A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES.

WE DO THAT WITH TEAMS OF PRODUCERS AND EDITORS.

IN THIS CASE THREE OUT OF THE FOUR EDITORS ON THIS FILM WERE AFRICAN-AMERICAN.

WE HAVE ADVISERS AND PEOPLE WHO APPEAR IN THE FILM THAT ARE FROM DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS AND DO THAT AND SPEAK TO THEIR PERSONAL OPINIONS.

WE CELEBRATE THE IDEA THAT EVERYBODY SHOULD BE TELLING THEIR STORY, THAT EVERYBODY SHOULD HAVE A VOICE, THAT THERE SHOULD BE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD, THAT THERE SHOULD BE A PLACE AT THE TABLE FOR AS MANY PERSPECTIVES AS POSSIBLE.

BUT I DON'T EXPECT THE FACT THAT A CERTAIN KIND OF PERSON CAN TELL A CERTAIN KIND OF STORY ABOUT OUR PAST.

I KNOW YOU, JACK, HAVE DONE STORIES ABOUT INTEGRATION YOURSELF.

I MEAN, WE DON'T WANT TO PRECLUDE THAT.

AND I'M REMINDED OF A QUOTE BY DR. KING WHO SAID ALL LIFE IS INTERRELATED.

ALL PEOPLE ARE CAUGHT IN AN INESCAPABLE NETWORK OF MUTUALITY TIED IN A SINGLE GARMENT OF DESTINY.

THIS BEAUTIFUL WOMAN HERE THAT I MET TODAY FOR THE FIRST TIME, THOUGH I FELT LIKE I HAVE KNOWN HER FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND YEARS.

SARA DID THE ORIGINAL INTERVIEW.

SHE AND I ARE OF THE SAME FAMILY.

AS YOU SAY, WE NO LONGER HAVE TO -- WE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO SAY THE COLOR.

WE'RE TRYING TO GET TO A PLACE WHERE WE DON'T HAVE TO DO THAT.

AND THAT'S AN AMERICAN HISTORY I HAVE TRIED TO PRACTICE MY ENTIRE LIFE, WHICH IS ONE THAT INCLUDES THE EXPERIENCE OF ALL AMERICANS AND DOESN'T REGULAR GAIT, DOESN'T SEPARATE OUT A BLACK STORY AND PUT IT IN FEBRUARY, THE COLDEST AND SHORTEST MONTH BUT REMINDS PEOPLE THAT THIS IS AN INTEGRATED PART OF ALL OF OUR HISTORIES.

IF WE WERE FOUNDED ON THE IDEA THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL AND THE GUY, A WHITE GUY WHO WROTE THAT OWNED HUNDREDS OF HUMAN BEINGS, WE'VE GOT TO DEAL WITH IT.

ALL OF US HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT.

BLACK PEOPLE CERTAINLY HAVE HAD TO SUFFER FROM THAT FOR 402 YEARS OF RACIAL OPPRESSION AND WHITE SUPREMACY.

BUT ALL OF THE REST OF US ALSO HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT IN AN HONEST WAY.

YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE THE UNTEACHING OF IT, AS TEXAS IS TRYING TO DO.

SO I SPENT MY ENTIRE PROFESSIONAL LIFE TRYING TO TELL THAT STORY.

LET ME ASK.

I'VE GOT ABOUT TWO MINUTES LEFT HERE.

I'LL ASK YOU THIS QUESTION IF WE CAN.

WE BOTH TALKED ABOUT THE IDEA THAT THESE ARE A JOURNEY.

KEN, YOU AND I TALKED ABOUT THIS BEFORE.

YOU'RE TAKING US ON A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY.

I THOUGHT I KNEW ALMOST EVERYTHING ABOUT MOHAMED ALI.

I FOUND OUT I DIDN'T WHEN I SAW THIS.

I REMEMBER THE GAS BURST AND THEN THE ERUPTION OF EMOTION.

MY QUESTION TO YOU IS, WHAT DID YOU LEARN?

WHAT DID YOU LEARN THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW?

WOW.

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, TO YOUR LAST QUESTION, MY DAD BELIEVED IN INCLUSION.

AND HE BELIEVED IN TOGETHERNESS AND THAT WE WERE STRONGER AND MORE POWERFUL AS A NATION, AS A PEOPLE THAN IN ONE NATION.

SO TRUTH DOESN'T HAVE A COLOR.

AND I THINK IF MY DAD TOLD KEN TODAY THANK YOU FOR DOING -- FOR TELLING HIS STORY BECAUSE IT IS THE TRUTH, AND HE WOULD BE SO HON ORED AND PLEASED THAT THE TRUTH IS OUT AND THAT WE ALL ARE ONE PEOPLE.

AND IF IT IS THE TRUE STORY, THEN MY DAD WOULD BE HAPPY WITH IT.

THAT'S TO THE LAST QUESTION THAT YOU POSED.

I HAVE GOT ABOUT A MINUTE LEFT.

OKAY, OKAY.

SO WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR STORY IS THAT MY DAD WAS FLAWED, BUT I DIDN'T REALIZE THAT HE REALLY WAS BEHIND THE EIGHT BALL MOST OF HIS LIFE AND THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS THAT HE FACED, HE LITERALLY PUSHED THROUGH HIS SIX CORE PRINCIPALS THAT HE'S PRACTICED THROUGHOUT HIS ENTIRE LIFE TO BE ABLE TO BECOME SUCCESSFUL.

AND THE ROOT OF HIS TRIALS, IT CAME -- IT STEMMED FROM HIS FAITH.

AND, SO, WITHOUT THAT FAITH, I THINK HE WOULD HAVE HAD A REALLY DIFFICULT TIME WITH ALL OF THE ANIMOSITY AND HATE THAT CAME HIS WAY AND I THINK IT WAS THE FAITH THAT DROVE HIM TO GREATNESS, TO THE GREAT MAN THAT HE IS TODAY.

THAT'S A GREAT MESSAGE FOR US TO ALL LEARN FROM THIS.

WHEN WE HAVE MORE TIME, I WILL ASK YOU WHAT YOU SAID BEFORE.

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANY ONE PERSON, I KNOW YOU SAID ABRAHAM LINCOLN, LOUIS ARMSTRONG AND MOHAMED ALI.

WE SHOULD EXPAND THE TABLE.

WOULDN'T THAT BE WONDERFUL?

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

KEN, ALWAYS A PLEASURE.

FABULOUS FILM.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

GREAT.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

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