I have always been fascinated by this story – thought I would share it. Muhammad Ali changed his name when he converted to Islam. He claimed that his birth name was a “slave name”. He was named after a white Republican abolitionist from his hometown of Louisville, KY.
Cassius Marcellus Clay (October 19, 1810 – July 22, 1903), nicknamed The Lion of White Hall, was a Kentucky planter and a Republican politician who worked for the abolition of slavery. He was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as the Ambassador to Russia during the Civil War, and is credited with gaining Russian support for the Union.
Cassius Clay was a pioneer as an early southern planter who became a prominent anti-slavery crusader. Clay worked toward emancipation, both as a Kentucky state representative and as an early member of the Republican Party. His anti-slavery activism earned him violent enemies – predominantly from the Democratic Party. During a political debate in 1843, he survived an assassination attempt by a Democratic hired gun, named Sam Brown. Despite being shot in the chest, Clay defended himself. He seriously wounded Brown with his Bowie knife and threw him over an embankment.
This is American History – not “Negro” History. This history has been suppressed. Suppressed and “segregated” by the Democratic Party and white liberal elites, the teacher’s unions, those in the racial spoils business. They have created an intellectual “ghetto”, a form of historical apartheid. This is American History – it should be treated as such. We owe it to the men and women, black & white, recounted here.
In 1845, Clay began publishing an anti-slavery newspaper, True American, in Lexington, Kentucky. Within a month he received death threats, had to arm himself, and regularly barricaded the armored doors of his newspaper office for protection, besides setting up two four-pounder cannons inside. Shortly after, a mob of about 60 Democratics broke into his office and seized his printing equipment. To protect his venture, Clay set up a publication center in Cincinnati, Ohio, a center of abolitionists in the free state, but continued to reside in Kentucky.
On November 11, 1912, nine years after the death of Cassius Marcellus Clay, Herman H. Clay, a descendant of African-American slaves, named his son Cassius Marcellus Clay in tribute to the abolitionist. This Cassius Clay gave his own son the same inspiring name. Cassius M. Clay, Jr., developed as a heavy-weight champion boxer who gained international renown. After converting to the Nation of Islam, Cassius Clay, Jr., changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Later he became a member of traditional Sunni Islam.
Muhammad Ali’s conversion to Islam and refusal to fight in Vietnam remain controversial – some say traitorous & infamous to this day. He claims that fighting would have violated his faith – we think he did it to preserve his fame and fortune . . .