Muhammad Ali Day is being officially celebrated by the state of Illinois. State legislators recently passed a resolution to make January 17th an official holiday in June. Today, the state celebrated the famed boxer for the first time.

It’s no coincidence that Muhammad Ali Day also fell on Martin Luther King Day. Both men were considered champions of the American civil rights movement. Dr. King was the voice and the organizer. Ali used sport to spread his message of peace.

Ali lived on Chicago’s south side from the mid 1960’s through the late 1970’s, according to ABC 7. After converting to Islam, Ali claimed conscientious objector status when he refused to serve in the Vietnam War. The sport of boxing responded with a complete banishment.

Ali became more socially and politically active during that time. The boxing great remained in Chicago and started a family there. The state claims Muhammad Ali as one of their own.

Reverend Jesse Jackson was set to deliver opening remarks along with Ali’s daughter Maryum at a special dialogue on Ali and King’s ideas. It was an appropriate celebration. Today would have been Muhammad Ali’s 80th birthday.

The dual celebration is fitting for the Land of Lincoln. All Americans should take a moment today to think about the contributions of people like Dr. King and Muhammad Ali to our society. We should all be as grateful as Iillinois to have had such powerful voices among us.

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Michael Perry

Michael Perry is a news contributor for Ringside News and Thirsty for News. Michael has an M.A. in Communication Technology from Point Park University in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.

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