Muhammad Ali speaks at UW on May 30, 1968.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 7/05/1999
  • Essay 1459
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On May 30, 1968, Muhammad Ali (b. 1942), world heavyweight boxing champion, speaks at the University of Washington as part of the Memorial Day Vietnam Convocation.

Ali announces, "The American Negro must be given an education that will give him knowledge about him and his race," but says little about the war in Vietnam. He discusses racial problems in the U.S., Islam, love, hate, and a variety of other topics. Ali is visiting the UW as part of a tour of U.S. college campuses where he is a popular speaker.

Ali, born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., was the world heavyweight boxing champion until 1967 when he was convicted of refusing induction into the Armed Forces of the United States and stripped of his boxing license and title. Ali claimed that he was a minister of Islam and objected to military service on religious grounds. He resumed his boxing career after the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed his conviction in April 1969.


Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 256; John Stravinski, Muhammad Ali (New York: Park Lane Press, 1997); Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 31, 1968, p. 15.

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