The Riddle of Cassius Clay: The Making of Muhammad Ali

Date and Time: March 21, 2017 - 9:00am to 11:30am
Location: Memorial Union, Ventana Ballroom, Tempe campus
Campus: Tempe campus
Price: Free

How did Cassius Clay become Muhammad Ali? Why was he the most polarizing athlete in America during the 1960s? Historian Johnny Smith will answer these questions and discuss his new book, "Blood Brothers," the first in-depth portrait of the pivotal friendship between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X.Smith will explain the central role Malcolm X played in the life of Muhammad Ali and how the politics of the Nation of Islam broke the bond between these two icons. "Blood Brothers" is a tale of friendship and brotherhood, love and deep affection. It is also a story of deceit, betrayal and violence — inside and outside the ring — during a troubled time in America. Ali and Malcolm X remain relevant to our current political conversation. Malcolm X was one of the leading voices of Black Lives Matter long before the movement had a name, and Ali's relationship with him reconfigured the relationship between sports and politics, shaping what became known as the revolt of the black athlete.  Today, we see athletes like Colin Kaepernick following Ali's lead in speaking out against racial violence. Revisiting their relationship reveals the origins of the revolt of the black athlete in America.About the speaker:Johnny Smith is an assistant professor of history at Georgia Tech. He is the co-author of "Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X." He is also the author of "The Sons of Westwood: John Wooden, UCLA, and the Dynasty That Changed College Basketball." He is writing "The Year of the Slugger: When Mickey Mantle Became an American Hero." Smith will be signing copies of "Blood Brothers" after his lecture.

Department: School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies
Contact: Aderyn Bright