"Black Scholar Interviews: Muhammad Ali."
Black Scholar 1, no. 8(June 1970): 32-39.
In the midst of Muhammad Ali's legal battle to obtain conscientious to
objector status and get his championship belt back, he gave an interview
to the Black Scholar in which he touched on Vietnam. It is probably best
to let the prolific Muhammad Ali talk for himself.
"What's wrong with me going to jail for something I believe in? Boys are
dying in Vietnam for something they don't believe. I met two black
soldiers a while back in an airport. They said: 'Champ, it takes a lot
of guts to do what you're doing.' I told them: 'Brother, you just don't
know. If you knew where you were going now, if you knew your chances of
coming out with no arm or no eye, fighting those people in their own
land, fighting Asian brothers, you got to shoot them, they never
lynched you, never called you nigger, never put dogs on you, never shot
your leaders. You've got to shoot your 'enemies' (they call them) and
as soon as you get home you won't be able to find a job. Going to jail
for a few years is nothing compared to that.' We've gone too far to
turn around. They've got to go on and either free me or put me in jail,
because I'm going to go on just like I am, taking my stand. If I have
to go to jail, if I have to die, I'm ready.
People are always asking me what I think about the draft. I wrote a
little poem on it. I said:
I ain't going to go.
Clean out my cell
And take my tail
Because it's better there eating
Watching television fed
Than in Vietnam with your white folks dead."