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How did Muhammad Ali’s critical perspective of the Vietnam War draft affect society’s opinions on the war and its surrounding events?

The Vietnam War Draft

• During the Vietnam War, there were many ways men avoided the draft ◦ Money and connections• Was unfair to colored men because there was a lack of economic opportunity and/or education

• Born in Louisville, Kentucky as Cassius Clay• At age 18, he won his first gold medal at the Olympics in Rome, Italy ◦ When he returned to the U.S, he became a member of the Nation of Islam ◦ This is when he changed his name to Cassius X, and eventually Muhammad Ali• Pursued his boxing career and was the reigning world heavyweight champion for 3 years before getting his title stripped due to his refusal of being inducted into the U.S military during the Vietnam War

Muhammad Ali

• Most of Ali’s support came from black Americans ◦ Martin Luther King Jr. believed that peace in Vietnam and civil rights progress were correlated ◦ He heavily endorsed Ali’s refusal to fight in the war ◦ With his support, more people began to support Ali’s view on the war

Reactions and support

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Of The Draft

Ali's Perspective

• Ali was very bold and comfortable with his beliefs• He believed that he shouldn’t have to fight for freedom, since those of color didn’t have many freedoms in America to start off with ◦ “If I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die right here, fightin’ you.”

• When Ali was classified as available for the draft, he submitted an application for a conscientious objection ◦ (His religion)• The Department of Justice declined his claim• In the “Clay v. United States” case, an all-white jury convicted Ali for failure to serve ◦ Fined $10,000 and was sentenced maximum of 5 years• Ali managed to stay out of jail before the eventual overturn of the case ◦ While avoiding jail, Ali made income through college campus tours ◦ He talked about faith, objection to war, and racism

Ali and the draft

Ali's Impact

• The controversy surrounding Muhammad Ali sparked and promoted public debate on the Vietnam War• Slowly turned U.S against war• Helped create progress within civil rights with the help of Martin Luther King Jr. ◦ Both helped the public acknowledge the need for justice not only in a Vietnam, but starting with America.