June 20, 1967: When Muhammad Ali Took the Weight


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This article originally appeared at The Rag Blog.

Dave Zirin : When Muhammad Ali Took the Weight

Muhammad Ali, the former Cassius Clay, was convicted by a U.S. federal court in Houston on June 20, 1967. Above, he is shown when refusing induction at the Houston draft board, April 28, 1967. At his right is the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.In an era defined by endless war, we should recognize a day in history that won’t be celebrated on Capitol Hill or in the White House. On June 20, 1967, the great Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston for refusing induction in the U.S. armed forces.

Ali saw the war in Vietnam as an exercise in genocide. He also used his platform as boxing champion to connect the war abroad with the war at home, saying, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?”

For these statements, as much as the act itself, Judge Joe Ingraham handed down the maximum sentence to Cassius Clay” (as they insisted upon calling him in court): five-years in a federal penitentary and a $10,000 fine. The next day, this was the top-flap story for The New York Times with the headline, “Clay Guilty in Draft Case; Gets Five Years in Prison.”

The sentence was unusually harsh and deeply tied to a Beltway, bipartisan consensus to crush Ali and ensure that he not develop into a symbol of anti-war resistance. The day of Ali’s conviction the U.S. Congress voted 337-29 to extend the draft four more years. They also voted 385-19 to make it a federal crime to desecrate the flag. Their fears of a rising movement against the war were well-founded.The summer of 1967 marked a tipping point for public support of the Vietnam “police action.” While the Tet Offensive, which exposed the lie that the United States was winning the war, was still six months away, the news out of Southeast Asia was increasingly grim. At the time of Ali’s conviction, 1,000 Vietnamese noncombatants were being killed each week by U.S. forces. One hundred U.S. soldiers were dying every day, and the war was costing $2 billion a month.Anti-war sentiment was growing and it was thought that a stern rebuke of Ali would help put out the fire. In fact, the opposite took place. Ali’s brave stance fanned the flames.

As Julian Bond said,

[It] reverberated through the whole society… [Y]ou could hear people talking about it on street corners. It was on everyone’s lips. People who had never thought about the war before began to think it through because of Ali. The ripples were enormous.

Ali himself vowed to appeal the conviction, saying,

I strongly object to the fact that so many newspapers have given the American public and the world the impression that I have only two alternatives in this stand — either I go to jail or go to the Army. There is another alternative, and that alternative is justice. If justice prevails, if my constitutional rights are upheld, I will be forced to go neither to the Army nor jail. In the end, I am confident that justice will come my way, for the truth must eventually prevail.

Already, by this point, Ali’s heavyweight title had been stripped, beginning a three-and-a-half-year exile. Already Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam had begun to distance themselves from their most famous member. Already, Ali had become a punching bag for almost every reporter with a working pen.

But with his conviction came a new global constituency. In Guyana, protests against his sentence took place in front of the U.S. embassy. In Karachi, Pakistan, a hunger strike began in front of the U.S. consulate. In Cairo, demonstrators took to the streets. In Ghana, editorials decried his conviction. In London, an Irish boxing fan named Paddy Monaghan began a long and lonely picket of the U.S. Embassy.Over the next three years, he would collect more than 20,000 signatures on a petition calling for the restoration of Muhammad Ali’s heavyweight title.Ali at this point was beginning to see himself as someone who had a greater responsibility to an international groundswell that saw him as more than an athlete.

Boxing is nothing, just satisfying to some bloodthirsty people. I’m no longer a Cassius Clay, a Negro from Kentucky. I belong to the world, the black world. I’ll always have a home in Pakistan, in Algeria, in Ethiopia. This is more than money.

Eventually justice did prevail and the Supreme Court overturned Ali’s conviction in 1971. They did so only after the consensus on the war had changed profoundly. Ali had been proven right by history, although a generation of people in [Southeast] Asia and the United States paid a terrible price along the way.

Years later, upon reflection, Ali said he had no regrets.

Some people thought I was a hero. Some people said that what I did was wrong. But everything I did was according to my conscience. I wasn’t trying to be a leader. I just wanted to be free. And I made a stand all people, not just black people, should have thought about making, because it wasn’t just black people being drafted. The government had a system where the rich man’s son went to college, and the poor man’s son went to war. Then, after the rich man’s son got out of college, he did other things to keep him out of the Army until he was too old to be drafted.

As we remain mired in a period of permanent war, take a moment and consider the risk, sacrifice, and principle necessary to dismantle the war machine. We all can’t be boxing champions, but moving forward, all who oppose war can rightfully claim Ali’s brave history as our own.

[Dave Zirin is the author of Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love (Scribner) and just made the new documentary Not Just a Game. Receive his column every week by emailingdave@edgeofsports.com. Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com. This article was also posted at The Nation blogs. Read more articles by Dave Zirin on 

Detroit: RACE RIOT OF 1943…


 

Image result for detroit state

Like the successive rebellion that would erupt 24 years later, the Detroit Race Riot of 1943 was deeply rooted in racism, poor living conditions and unequal access to goods and services. The apparent industrial prosperity that made Detroit the “Arsenal of Democracy” masked a deeper social unrest that erupted during the summer of 1943. The KKK was active in the region and riots had already broken out in other cities.

Before and during World War II, workers migrated north to seek factory employment in such vast numbers that Detroit was incapable of adequately receiving them. Because black Detroiters were still treated as second class citizens, they suffered disproportionately from wartime rationing and the overall strains on the city. Factories offered employment but not housing, and because whites violently defended the borders of their segregated neighborhoods, black residents had little choice but to suffer in repulsive living conditions.

Detroit’s 200,000 black residents were marginalized into small, subdivided apartments that often housed multiple families. They were crammed into sixty square blocks on the city’s east side, an area ironically known as Paradise Valley.  Because there was simply no space left to expand upon already existing African American neighborhoods, the city attempted to construct a black housing project in what was otherwise a white neighborhood. A mob of more than one thousand whites, some of whom were armed, lit a cross on fire and angrily picketed the arrival of their African American neighbors.

Black workers faced virulent racism on the job as well. In June of 1943, white workers halted production to protest the promotion of their African American co-workers. Other factories faced habitual slowdowns by bigoted whites who refused to work alongside African Americans. Humiliation and resentment on each side spilled over into all facets of Detroiter’s wartime struggle and by the early 1940s, racially motivated street fights were common.

On June 20, 1943, more than two hundred black and white individuals engaged in racially-motivated fighting on Belle Isle. Though police quelled the violence by midnight, tensions soared and later that night, two rumors led to incendiary action on both sides. African Americans at the Forest Social Club in Paradise Valley were told that whites had thrown a black woman and her baby off of the Belle Isle Bridge. They formed a furious mob and moved near Woodward, breaking windows, looting white businesses and attacking white individuals.

In a nearby area, angry whites had gathered after hearing that black men had raped a white woman near the same bridge. Around 4am, a mob of white men formed outside the Roxy Theatre on Woodward. When the movie let out, black men exiting the theatre were surrounded and beaten. As word of both incidents spread, so did the violence.

Gangs of each skin color roamed the streets, with Woodward as their dividing line. White mobs overturned cars owned by blacks and set them on fire and beat black men as white policemen looked on. A white doctor was beaten to death while making a house call in a black neighborhood. African American community leaders pleaded for Mayor Edward J. Jeffries to call in help from national troops. It was not until white gangs entered Paradise Valley that the Mayor responded by seeking assistance from President Franklin Roosevelt.

Violence was curbed by the arrival of 6,000 army troops in tanks armed with automatic weapons. The streets became vacant around midnight, with most residents too terrified to leave their homes. Nine whites and twenty five African Americans were killed in the Riots of 1943. No white individuals were killed by police, whereas seventeen African American died at the hands of police violence. 700 people were reportedly injured, with damages amounting to two million dollars.

11 Things About the June Solstice


The Sun shining through the Stonehenge ancient monument.

June 20, 2020, is the longest day of the year in most time zones in the Northern Hemisphere. Here are 11 facts you might not know about the June solstice.

1. Summer & Winter Solstice

In the Northern Hemisphere, where it is the longest day of the year in terms of daylight, the June solstice is also called the summer solstice. In the Southern Hemisphere, on the other hand, it is the shortest day of the year and is known as the winter solstice.

2. First Solstice of the Year

Solstices happen twice a year – in June and December. The June solstice happens around June 21, when the Sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer. The December solstice takes place around December 21. On this day, the Sun is precisely over the Tropic of Capricorn.

3. When the Sun Seems to Stand Still

Solstice comes from the Latin words sol, meaning Sun and sistere, meaning to come to a stop or stand still. On the day of the June solstice, the Sun reaches its northernmost position, as seen from the Earth. At that moment, its zenith does not move north or south as during most other days of the year, but it stands still at the Tropic of Cancer. It then reverses its direction and starts moving south again.

The opposite happens during the December solstice. Then, the Sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky – Tropic of Capricorn – stands still, and then reverses its direction towards the north.

4. It Occurs at the Same Time…

…all over the world. Technically, the June solstice is the exact instant of time when the Sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer. In 2020, this will happen on June 20 at 21:43 UTC.

Summer Sun peeking from a tree.

 

June solstice is also called summer solstice.

©bigstockphoto.com/Grisha Bruev

 

5. It Can be on June 20, 21, or 22

Even though most people consider June 21 as the date of the June solstice, it can happen anytime between June 20 and June 22. June 22 solstices are rare – the last June 22 solstice in UTC time took place in 1975 and there won’t be another one until 2203.

6. It’s the First Day of Summer…

Men setting up the Maypole for Midsummer celebrations in Torstuna, Sweden.

The Maypole is a symbol of Midsummer celebrations in Sweden.

©bigstockphoto.com/contas

…depending on who you ask. Astronomers and scientists use the date of the June solstice to mark the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. For meteorologists, on the other hand, summer began almost three weeks ago, on June 1.

In many Northern Hemisphere cultures, the day is traditionally considered to be the mid-point of the summer season. Midsummer celebrations on or around the Northern summer solstice are common in many European countries.

7. The Earth is Farthest from the Sun

One might think that since it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, the Earth is closest to the Sun during the June solstice. But it’s the opposite. The Earth is actually farthest from the Sun during this time of the year. In fact, the Earth will be on its Aphelion a few weeks after the June solstice.

Earth's position in relation to the Sun's rays at the June solstice.

June solstice (Ill. not to scale).

© timeanddate.com

The Earth’s distance from the Sun has very little effect over the Seasons on Earth. Instead, it the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis, which is angled at around 23.4 degrees, that creates seasons.

The direction of Earth’s tilt does not change as the Earth orbits the Sun – the two hemispheres point towards the same direction in space at all times. What changes as the Earth orbits around the Sun is the position of the hemispheres in relation to the Sun – the Northern Hemisphere faces towards the Sun during the June solstice, thus experiencing summer. The Southern Hemisphere tilts away from the Sun and therefore enjoys winter during this time.

8. The Earliest Sunrise of the Year Doesn’t Happen on This Day

Picturesque landscape of a ranch at sunrise.

The earliest sunrise takes place days before the June solstice.

©bigstockphoto.com/Geribody

Even though the June solstice is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, most places do not see the earliest sunrise of the year on this day. The earliest sunrise happens a few days before, and the latest sunset takes place a few days after, the June solstice.

In the Southern Hemisphere, where this day marks the winter solstice, the earliest sunset happens a few days before the solstice, and the latest sunrise occurs a few days after it.

This happens because of the imbalance between time measured using clocks and time measured by a sundial. Read more

9. Not Usually the Hottest Day of the Year

In fact, the hottest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere usually comes a few weeks or sometimes months after the solstice. This is because it takes time for the oceans and landmasses to warm up, which again allows for higher air temperatures. This phenomenon is called the delay or lag of the seasons.

10. The Arctic Circle has 24 Hours of Daylight

Midnight sun by the sea on island of Vaeroy, Norway.

Midnight sun by the sea on the Island of Vaeroy, Norway.

©bigstockphoto.com/harvepino

The June solstice is the only day of the year when all locations inside the Arctic Circle experience a continuous period of daylight for 24 hours. Due to atmospheric refraction, however, the midnight sun is visible for a few days before and on the June solstice from areas as far as 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of the Arctic Circle. As one moves further north of the Arctic Circle, the number of days with the Midnight Sun increase.

On the Antarctic Circle, there are 24 hours of nighttime on the June solstice. Just as with the Northern Hemisphere, any location south of the Antarctic Circle has Polar Night several days before the June solstice.

11. It’s Celebrated Around the World

The June solstice holds a special place of celebration in many cultures. People around the world celebrate the day with feasts, picnics, dance, and music.