MetroFocus

FULL EPISODE

MetroFocus: September 16, 2021

Tonight, a sneak peak at the upcoming four-part PBS documentary series on the life of the man many regard as the most significant athlete of the 20th century, three-time boxing heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. Ken Burns and Rasheda Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter and a collaborator on the film join us to discuss his life and legacy.

AIRED: September 16, 2021 | 0:28:37
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

>>> THIS IS "METROFOCUS" WITH

RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND

JENNA FLANAGAN.

>>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE

POSSIBLE BY --

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN

GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN

FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

FOUNDATION.

>>> MOHAMMED ALI WAS AN ACTIVIST

WHO FOUGHT TO MOVE AMERICA IN A

CERTAIN WAY.

THERE WAS GOING TO BE AN

ENORMOUS PRICE TO PAY FOR THAT.

>> BOXING WAS THIS MUCH OF HIS

EVOLUTION, THE PERSON HE IS

TODAY IS WAY BIGGER.

>> THE PRICE OF FREEDOM COMES

HIGH.

I HAVE PAID, BUT I AM FREE.

>> MOHAMED ALI STARTS SUNDAY

SEPTEMBER 18th OF THE 7:00 P.M.

CENTRAL ONLY ON PBS.

>>> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO

"METROFOCUS."

I'M JACK FORD.

THAT WAS A SNEAK PEEK AT THE NEW

FOUR-PART DOCUMENTARY SERIES

AIRING ON PBS ON THE LIFE OF THE

MAN MANY REGARD AS THE MOST

SIGNIFICANT ATHLETE OF THE 20th

CENTURY, THREE-TIME BOXING HEAVY

WEIGHT CHAMPION MOHAMED ALI.

THE SERIES SHOWS USING VIVID

HISTORICAL FOOTAGE AND

INTERVIEWS HOW ALI'S LIFE

INTERSECTED WITH AND INDEED

IMPACTED SOME OF THE MOST

PROFOUND CHANGES IN THE NATION'S

HISTORY.

FROM CIVIL RIGHTS, THE ANTI-WAR

MOVEMENT TO THE RECOGNITION OF

ISLAM AS AN IMPORTANT RELIGION.

THE DOCUMENTARY IS THIS ICONIC

FIGURE ALSO COMES AS A TIME OF

HEIGHTENED AWARENESS AND

QUESTIONS SURROUNDING THE

ONGOING FIGHT FOR RACIAL

EQUALITY, EQUITY AND JUSTICE IN

THIS NATION.

JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT

THESE ISSUES AND HOW THEY RELATE

NOT JUST TO THE LIFE OF MOHAMED

ALI, BUT TO IMPORTANT

CONVERSATIONS WE'RE HAVING TODAY

IS PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR KEN

BURNS AND ALSO RASHEDA ALI, WHO

IS MOHAMED ALI'S DAUGHTER.

WELCOME.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, BOTH OF YOU,

FOR JOINING US HERE.

>> THANKS AGAIN FOR HAVING ME.

>> OKAY.

LET ME START WITH THE FIRST

QUESTION THAT IS ALWAYS ASKED OF

FILM MAKERS, WHICH IS WHY THIS

SUBJECT AND WHY NOW?

>> WELL, THERE IS NO WHY NOW,

JACK, BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, FOR US

IT TAKES SEVEN OR EIGHT YEARS.

SO THE NOW FOR US WAS SAYING YES

TO THIS WITH ALL OUR HEARTS BACK

IN 2013 AND BEGINNING IN 2014

AND DOING A LOT OF SHOOTING

THEN.

BUT I UNDERSTAND.

THERE ARE LOTS OF DOCUMENTARIES

ON MOHAMED ALI AND SOME

EXCELLENT ONES.

NOBODY HAD YET DONE ONE THAT WAS

SOUP TO NUTS.

THAT WAS TO SAY BEGINNING WITH

HIS BIRTH AND BOYHOOD IN

SEGREGATED KENTUCKY ALL THE WAY

TO HIS DEATH FROM PARKINSON'S

FIVE YEARS AGO.

AND TOUCHING NOT JUST ON THE

BOXING CAREER BUT ALL THESE

ISSUES.

HE INTERSECTED BACK THEN WITH

THE ISSUES OF RACE, OF THE ROLE

OF SPORTS, OF THE ROLE OF THE

BLACK ATHLETE, THE DEFINITION OF

BLACK MASCULINITY AND BLA

BLACKMAN -- BLACK MANHOOD.

AS WE SEE, ACTIVISM AND THE

RENEWAL OF THE QUESTIONS ABOUT

RACIAL JUSTICE AND RACIAL

EQUITY, HE'S AT THE FOREFRONT OF

ALL.

ALL OF THE ATHLETES THAT WE

SPEAK OF.

BUT EVERYBODY ELSE REALIZES THAT

IN MANY WAYS THEY'RE STANDING ON

THE SHOULDERS OF HIS FIGHT FOR

FREEDOM FOR HIMSELF.

BUT NOT ONLY THAT FOR HIS

PEOPLE, HIS COURAGE.

NOT JUST IN THE RING BUT IN THE

FACE OF TAKING A STAND AGAINST

THE VIETNAM WAR AND HIS LOVE.

AND I THINK PEOPLE FORGET,

RASHEDA UNDERSTANDS THIS IN HER

BONES, THAT THE BIGGEST

COMPONENT OF THIS IS THE LOVE

PART OF IT.

IT IS HARD FOR US TO TALK ABOUT

BECAUSE IT IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD

WE'RE ALLOWED TO SAY BUT

DIFFICULT TO TALK ABOUT.

SO THE DOCUMENTARY IS AN ATTEMPT

TO PUT AN ARM AROUND ALL OF

THESE THINGS AND INTERRELATE

THEM IN A WAY, SO YOU JUST DON'T

MENTION HE'S A MEMBER OF THE

NATION OF ISLAM.

YOU GO INTO HIS HISTORY AND

UNDERSTAND IT.

IT ISN'T JUST A FIXED THING, OH,

HE WAS THIS.

HE WAS MANY THINGS AND THAT

SPIRITUAL JOURNEY IS CENTRAL TO

THIS, AS IS THE FIGHTS.

YOU CANNOT BELIEVE THE DRAMA.

>> THAT'S A GREAT WAY TO CAPTURE

IT.

AGAIN, I'M SOMEBODY, I'M JUST

TWO YEARS YOUNGER MAN HIM, SO I

LIVED THROUGH HIS YEARS EMERGING

AS AN OLYMPIC HERO AND IN THE

STRUGGLES AFTERWARDS AND AT THE

FIGHTS.

I WAS AT ONE OF THEM, AND THEY

ARE ENORMOUS DRAMA.

NOT JUST WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE

SQUARED CIRCLE BUT EVERYTHING

SURROUNDING IT BECAUSE IT WAS

MOHAMED ALI.

>> HE MADE EVERY FIGHT A DRAMA.

AND IT ISN'T JUST ABOUT WHAT

MAKES PLACE AS YOU'RE SUGGESTING

IN THE RING.

IT IS ALSO WHAT TAKES PLACE IN

THE WAY HE SETS IT UP.

HE'S SORT OF BOTH THE PLAY

WRIGHT AS WELL AS THE

PARTICIPANT.

AND THERE IS A WONDERFUL DRAMA.

AND EACH ONE HAS ITS DIFFERENT

CHARACTERS.

THE FIRST LIST IN, YOU COULDN'T

TELL A HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER, THE

RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE, THE THRILL

IN VANILLA AND SOME LESSER

KNOWNS BUT JUST MASTERPIECES.

AS THE BOXER MICHAEL BEN SAYS

THE PICASSOS.

>> LEONARDODY VINCHY.

>> WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT?

THIS MAN IS YOUR FATHER AND YOU

HAVE LIVED WITH HAVING A LEGEND

AS A FATHER.

AND AS KEN DESCRIBED THIS, AND

IT IS JUST A MARVELOUS FILM.

BUT IT IS A SWEEPING PORTRAIT.

IT IS NOT A DOCUMENTARY ON THE

SUPREME COURT DIAL.

IT IS A SWEEPING PORTRAIT OF THE

MAN AND HIS LIFE AND HIS FLAWS

AND HIS FRAILTIES.

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE IDEA

OF TELLING THIS STORY NOW?

>> YOU KNOW, AS, FIRST OF ALL,

JACK, THANKS FOR HAVING US ON

TODAY.

I TEXTED KEN AFTER I SAW THE

FOUR PART SERIES.

AND I COULDN'T HELP BUT TO

REMIND HIM THAT -- AND I THANKED

HIM AND SARA AND DAVID McMAN AS

WELL FOR CAPTURING THE ESSENCE

OF MY DAD.

THIS STORY IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT

STORY TO TELL.

IT'S A HUMAN STORY.

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT IS A

GREAT AFRICAN-AMERICAN STORY

ABOUT OUR STRUGGLES AND WHAT HE

DID WITH THE TRIALS AND

TRIBULATIONS THAT WAS HANDED TO

HIM.

AND IT IS A COMPLETE STORY,

WHICH IS ONE OF THE SELLING

POINTS THAT I USE TO BE ABLE TO

COME ONBOARD WITH THIS PROJECT.

SARA REACHED OUT TO ME EARLY IN

THE PRODUCTION PROCESS.

SHE HAD MENTIONED THAT AND I'VE

SEEN SOME DOCUMENTARIES WHERE

I'M LIKE, I CAN'T DO ANOTHER

ONE.

BUT SARA MENTIONED THIS IS GOING

TO BE A DOCUMENTARY THAT'S A

COMPREHENSIVE LOOK TO MY DAD AS

A MUSLIM, AS A POET, AS AN ABOUT

I HAVETIST, AS A BROTHER, AS A

FATHER.

AND I WAS LIKE, WHOA, THAT'S

FANTASTIC BECAUSE A LOT OF

DOCUMENTARIES, YOU KNOW, AND

LIKE KEN SAID THERE IS SOME

REALLY, REALLY GOOD ONES OUT

THERE THAT I'VE SEEN, BUT I

THINK THIS PARTICULAR ONE IS

REALLY THE WHOLE ENTIRE STORY.

SO IF YOU THINK, YOU KNOW, YOU

KNOW MY DAD AND YOU ARE A FAN

AND YOU FOLLOWED ALL HIS LIFE

OUTSIDE OF THE RING, THERE IS

GOING TO BE SOMETHING IN THE

STORY THAT YOU MISSED OR THERE

IS GOING TO BE A PART OF THE

STORY THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW.

AND THAT'S WHAT I LOVED ABOUT

THIS STORY.

SOME THINGS AREN'T THAT

FLATTERING.

MY DAD WASN'T PERFECT.

YOU ALL KNOW THAT.

BUT NONE OF US ARE.

WHAT MAKES -- AND I TOLD KEN.

I SAID MY DAD WASN'T PERFECT,

BUT HE WAS CONSTANTLY EVOLVING

INTO A BETTER MAN.

HE WAS ALSO VERY -- HE WAS

CHANGING, LIKE HIS PHILOSOPHIES

AND THE THINGS THAT HE THOUGHT

WHEN HE WAS IN HIS 20s WAS VERY

DIFFERENT FROM THE WAY HE

THOUGHT IN HIS 50s.

SO, AGAIN, IF YOU ARE NOT

CHANGING AND IF YOU ARE NOT

BETTERING YOURSELF, THEN WHAT'S

THE POINT, RIGHT?

SO MY DAD WAS ALWAYS -- AND IN

THIS FILM YOU SEE HIM EVOLVING

AND BECOMING BETTER AND BETTER

AS TIME GOES ALONG.

>> IT IS INTERESTING YOU SAY

THAT WAS I HAVE SEEN ATHLETES

WHO USE THE EXPRESSION THAT

APPLIES DIRECTLY WHAT TO YOU

SAID.

IF YOU ARE NOT GETTING BETTER

EACH DAY, YOU ARE ACTUALLY

LOSING.

>> RIGHT.

THAT'S RIGHT.

>> AND YOU'RE DESCRIBING HIM

EVOLVING EACH DAY.

KEN, IN TERMS OF PUTTING THIS

TOGETHER, AGAIN, I'M ALWAYS

FASCINATED BY WHAT'S THIS GOING

TO LOOK LIKE.

HOW ARE YOU GOING TO DRAW US IN

HERE?

I'M NOT GIVING A LOT AWAY, BUT

THE FIRST SCENE STARTS WITH ONE

OF HIS YOUNG DAUGHTERS.

>> OKAY.

SO -- SO --

>> TELL ME THE SCENE AND TELL

ME --

>> THIS IS WHAT WE'RE GOING TO

START WITH.

>> SET IT UP.

>> IT'S A GOOD STORY.

SO FOR MOST OF THE EDITING, THE

SCENE THAT I'M ABOUT TO DESCRIBE

WAS SAFELY AND PERFECTLY PLACED

DEEP INTO EPISODE THREE OF FOUR.

AND IT WORKED THERE PERFECTLY.

WE ALL LOVED IT.

WE BASICALLY STOPPED THINKING

ABOUT IT AS ANYTHING WE HAD TO

WORK ON.

IT WAS -- IT WAS WORKING AS WHAT

WE SAY IN THE EDITING ROOM,

WHICH IS THE HIGHEST THING YOU

CAN SAY.

BUT I ALSO FELT THAT HANNAH,

RASHEDA'S SISTER WAS ALONE IN

THE BEGINNING WITH THE SENSE OF

BEING A BABY AND HEARING THE

ECHOES OF THE CHEERS FOR HER

FATHER AS HE'S CARRYING HER

ACROSS AIRPORTS AND INTO

AUDITORIUMS AND THINGS LIKE

THAT.

AND I REALIZED THAT EVERYBODY

KNOWS HIM AS A BOXER.

EVERYBODY PRESUMES THERE IS

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM.

SO I SAID LET'S TAKE THIS SCENE

AND OPEN IT AT THE BEGINNING.

THERE IS NO FIGHT.

NOBODY DISAGREED.

IT IS LIKE, OKAY, LET'S TRY IT.

YOU HEAR IT IN BLACK.

IT STARTS IN NO PICTURE BECAUSE

THERE IS NOT PICTURE.

AND YOU HEAR THIS, YOU KNOW, YOU

HEAR THIS MAN'S VOICE.

YOU DON'T KNOW IT'S HIM.

AND HE SAID, WHAT DO YOU WANT.

AND SHE SAYS, I WANT CORN

FLAKES.

THEN THE PICTURE COMES ON.

THERE IS A LITTLE GIRL AND SHE'S

SITTING IN THE DINER WITH HER

FATHER AND THERE IS A PLATE OF

CORN FLAKES.

SHE IS STARTING TO EAT, AND IT'S

THE OLDER SISTER, HIS FIRST

BORN.

AND HE SAYS, LOOK OVER THERE,

LOOK OUT THE WINDOW.

AND EVERY PARENT KNOWS ABOUT

STEALING FOOD FROM THEIR KID,

RIGHT?

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> THEY ORDER THE FRENCH FRIES

BUT YOU WANT ONE, RIGHT?

HE GOES, NO, THERE IS A WHITE

HORSE OVER THERE.

YOU GOT TO LOOK.

MIRIAM GETS UP THERE AND HE

TAKES A BITE OF THE CORN FLAKES

AND PUTS IT DOWN.

SHE TURNS AROUND AND SHE KNOWS

EXACTLY WHAT SHE'S DONE.

SO SHE REACHES OVER AND SHRUGS

HIM AND HE COMES IN FOR A BIG

KISS AND EMBRACE AND THEN THE

FILM BEGINS AND YOU HEAR THE

CHANT OF THE CROWD GOING, ALI,

ALI.

WHAT WE WERE TRYING TO SAY IS WE

WANTED TO TELL THE WHOLE -- THIS

IS A HUMAN BEING.

YES, HE'S LARGER LAN LIFE.

BUT THIS IS THE MYTH LOGICAL

STORY IN WHICH WE CAN LEARN.

THIS IS WHY WE HAVE GREAT GREEK

MYTH THOLDIES.

OUR LIVES ARE LARGER THAN

THEIRS.

ALL THESE THINGS THAT WE

DISCUSSED AND ALL THE THINGS

THAT RASHIDA EMBODIES IN OUR

CAPACIOUS HEART.

BUT YOU WANT TO REMEMBER HE'S

FLESH AND BLOOD.

HE'S LIKE YOU AND ME.

THERE IS NOT A PARENT ON EARTH

THAT HASN'T GONE, LOOK OVER

THERE AND STOLEN SOMETHING FROM

THEIR KID.

AND IT'S JUST -- TO ME, ONE

FINAL THING.

WE FOUND ANOTHER LITTLE SCENE TO

FIT IN WHERE IT WORKED IN

EPISODE THREE AND IT'S ALL GOOD.

BUT IT HELPED, I THINK, BALANCE

THE FILM.

>> I THINK IT SHOWED THAT YOU

CAN BE AN ICON, BUT YOU CAN ALSO

BE AN EVERY PERSON.

>> YES.

>> AND, KEN, AS YOU SAID, IT IS

FUNNY BECAUSE I WATCHED THE FILM

AND JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS BEFORE

I HAD TWO OF MY GRANDCHILDREN,

MY SIX-YEAR-OLD AND MY

THREE-YEAR-OLD AND MY

THREE-YEAR-OLD GRANDSON, WE WERE

HAVING LUNCH.

AND I DID THE SAME THING.

AND I STOLE HIS FRENCH FRIES.

THE SIX-YEAR-OLD SAYS, WHY DO

YOU FALL FOR THAT ALL THE TIME?

BUT IT SAYS.

WE TALKED ABOUT SHAKESPEAREAN,

BUT IT DOES HUMANIZE THEM.

LET ME GET TO A COUPLE BIG

ISSUES HERE AND I WANT YOUR

THOUGHTS ON THAT.

YOU TALK IN THE FILM VERY

CAREFULLY ABOUT THE NOTION THAT

THE ADDLATION WAS NOT ALWAYS

ATTACHED TO HIM.

AND HE WAS, INDEED, AMONG SOME

PEOPLE REVILED EARLY ON IN HIS

CAREER.

KEN, WHY WAS THAT?

FOR PEOPLE -- THEIR GENERATION

WILL WATCH THIS THAT ONLY KNEW

THE ADDLATION.

>> HE DID DIE THE MOST BELOVED

PERSON ON THE PLANET.

THAT'S AN ASPIRATION THAT ALL OF

US SHOULD HAVE AND NONE OF US

ARE GOING TO HAVE.

WE SHOULD ACCEPT IT AND GET OVER

IT.

MOHAMED ALI IS THERE, HIS

EXAMPLE IS THERE THAT WE CAN AT

LEAST ASPIRE TO THAT.

BUT THERE WAS A TIME WHEN, AS

YOU SAID, THERE WAS A GREAT DEAL

OF HATRED.

YOU CAN UNPACK AND I WILL USE A

BASEBALL METAPHOR.

HERE IS A GUY AT THE BEGINNING

OF HIS PROFESSIONAL LIFE IS NOT

BEHAVING THE WAY AN ATHLETE

SHOULD BEHAVE.

HE'S PROUD OF HIMSELF.

HE'S RECITING POETRY AND HE'S A

BLACK MAN.

STRIKE ONE.

THEN WHEN HE WINS THE

CHAMPIONSHIP IN '64, HE

ANNOUNCES HE'S IN THE NATION OF

ISLAM, A SEPARATIST RELIGIOUS

SECT.

THEN THEY BESTOW ON HIM A NEW

NAME: MOMHAMED ALI.

PEOPLE DON'T WANT TO ACCEPT

THAT, SO HE IS STRIKE TWO.

AND THEN, OF COURSE, HE REFUSES

INDUCTION INTO THE MILITARY, THE

UNITED STATES ARMY, DURING THE

VOIETNAM WAR.

WE FORGET HOWDY VICIVE HE WAS.

I WOULD SUGGEST WE WERE

DIVISIVE.

HE WAS FOLLOWING HIS OWN PATH.

CERTAINLY THERE IS A LOT ABOUT

HIM THAT'S PROVOCATIVE AND IN

YOUR CHASE AND CHALLENGING BASIC

ASSUMPTIONS.

TO THAT EXTENT IT IS

ARGUMENTATIVE AT WORSE, BUT HE'S

FOLLOWING HIS HEART.

HE'S BEING RESOLUTELY HIMSELF.

AND, SO, WE JUST TAKE HIS

REFUSAL TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE

ARMY AS A POLITICAL GESTURE,

KIND OF POLITICAL, YOU KNOW, AS

A MIDDLE FINGER TO THE U.S. OR

THE U.S. REACTS THAT WAY.

BUT WHO IS TELLING US THAT?

WHO IS TELLING US THAT THAT'S

THE WAY WE SHOULD BE?

HE'S FOLLOWING A FAITH DECISION.

THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH

POLITICS.

IT NCOMPASSES AND

BEGINS TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE

ONLY WAY HE WILL SURVIVE WHEN

HIS LIVELIHOOD IS TAKEN AWAY

FROM HIM, HE'S GOING TO HAVE TO

GO ON THE COLLEGE CAMPUSES AND

SPEAK AND DO ALL THAT AND HE

BECOMES A HERO TO THE PEOPLE

OPPOSED TO THE WAR IN VIETNAM.

BY THE TIME HE GETS BACK INTO

BOXING, PEOPLE BEGIN TO REALIZE

HE WAS RIGHT.

NOT ONLY WAS HE RIGHT, HE WAS

WILLING TO SACRIFICE EVERYTHING

FOR A BELIEF.

THIS WASN'T POLITICS.

THIS WAS LIFE.

ALL OF A SUDDEN, THAT'S THE

BEGINNING.

HE LOSES, BUT IT IS THE

BEGINNING OF HIS REHABILITATION.

AND THEN THAT JUST CONTINUES UP

TO THE VERY END.

AND WHEN RASHIDA SAYS AT THE END

OF THE FILM, BOXING WAS THIS

MUCH.

HE COULD HAVE BEEN A SIMPLE

CARPENTER, AND WE KNOW WHERE

THAT LEADS.

>> WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE PBS

DOCUMENTARY ON MOHAMED ALI.

CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS FOR

THE AIRINGS ON THAT.

RASHIDA, FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE

AS A CHILD, AND KEN TALKED ABOUT

THE TRAJECTORY, IF YOU WILL, OF

PEOPLE HAVING PROBLEMS WITH

KASHS CLAY, THEN MOHAMED ALI AND

THEN BECOMING, WHEN HE DIED, THE

MOST BELOVED MAN ON THE PLANET.

SO FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, DID

YOU FEEL THAT AS YOU WERE A

CHILD AND GROWING UP?

DID YOU FEEL AT SOME POINT IN

TIME A PALPABLE HATRED AND THEN

THAT TRANSFORMS INTO THIS LOVE

AND KEN SAID IT WAS THAT AND

ADDLATION?

>> YEAH.

WELL, SO, FIRST OF ALL, TO

PIGGYBACK OFF OF WHAT KEN SAID

ABOUT HOW HE SACRIFICED, YOU

KNOW, HIS CAREER IN ALL OF THESE

THINGS BECAUSE HE STOOD FOR

SOMETHING.

HE HAD TRUE CONVICTION AND IT

WAS HIS RELIGION THAT HE HAD

MENTIONED THAT HE'LL FACE

GUNFIRE FOR THAT DAY IF IT MEANT

THAT IN DENOUNCING HIS RELIGION.

THAT'S THE KIND OF CONVICTION

AND PASSION THAT MY DAD HAD.

AND JUST TO, YOU KNOW, INFORM A

LOT OF THE PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T

GROW UP DURING THAT TIME OR

DIDN'T WATCH MY DAD IN ACTION

BECAUSE I KNOW, JEFF, YOU HAVE,

BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE, YOU KNOW,

YOUNGER GENERATION, THEY WEREN'T

FORTUNATE TO BE ABLE TO WATCH

THAT WHOLE STORY UNFOLD RIGHT IN

FRONT OF THEIR EYES AND, YOU

KNOW, IN FRONT OF THE TELEVISION

AND THE RADIO AND THE

NEWSPAPERS.

BUT MY DAD WAS IN HIS PRIME AT

THE TIME THAT HE DECIDED THAT HE

WASN'T GOING TO GO INTO, YOU

KNOW, INTO THE WAR.

AND HE -- I THINK IT WAS 1966,

THE CLEVELAND WILLIAMS FIGHT.

THAT'S THE BEST THAT WE'VE SEEN

OUR DAD.

WE'VE NEVER SEEN HIM BETTER THAN

THAT BECAUSE HE HAD SACRIFICED

ALL OF THOSE YEARS INCLUDING

FIVE YEARS IN PRISON.

AND THIS WAS KIND OF THE CHARGE

AGAINST HIM AND $10,000.

YOU FIND OUT THESE THINGS AND AT

A TIME WHERE MY DAD WAS REALLY

STRUGGLING.

HE WAS A YOUNG FATHER.

HE HAD JUST GOTTEN MARRIED, AND

HE COULDN'T PAY THE BILLS.

I MEAN, WE WERE STRUGGLING.

WE LIVED IN A LITTLE HOUSE.

WE WERE STRUGGLING, AND MY DAD

COULD NOT MAKE ENDS MEET BECAUSE

OF THE, YOU KNOW, THE INABILITY

TO FIGHT.

AND YOU'LL SEE IN THE FILM THAT

EVERYONE REJECTED HIM.

NO STATE WANTED HIM.

EVERYONE THOUGHT HE WAS

UNPATRIOTIC.

SO, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU WATCH

THIS PERSON GIVING UP THE MOST

IMPORTANT THING AT A TIME WHERE,

YOU KNOW, THEY DIDN'T HAVE PR

COMPANIES PROMOTING ATHLETES AT

THE TIME.

MY DAD WAS HIS PR PERSON.

SO HE HAD ACTUALLY BROUGHT -- I

TALKED TO KEN ABOUT THIS EARLIER

TODAY.

HE ACTUALLY BROUGHT EXCITEMENT

AND ENERGY TO A FIELD THAT

PEOPLE REALLY -- THE MAINSTREAM

REALLY DIDN'T WATCH BOXING AT

THAT TIME, BUT HE MADE IT SO

MAGICAL.

HE BROUGHT MOST PEOPLE LIKE

YOUNGER PEOPLE, OLDER PEOPLE,

WHATEVER COLOR RACE, HE WAS SO

EXCITING.

WE TALK ABOUT SHAKESPEARE.

I ALWAYS COMPARE MY DAD TO A

SHAKESPEARE ACTOR BECAUSE HE'S

ALWAYS PERFORMING AND HE'S

GIVING A SHOW.

SO HIS PERFORMANCE IN THE RING

AND OUT MADE -- HE TRANSCENDED

BOXING BECAUSE HE MADE IT SO

ACCESSIBLE TO EVERY SINGLE

PERSON THAT PEOPLE JUST WANTED

TO WATCH.

THEY COULD NOT TAKE THEIR EYES

OFF OF HIM.

SO AT A TIME WHILE HE WAS AT HIS

BEST, HE WAS WILLING TO

SACRIFICE ALL OF THAT FOR A

CAUSE.

AND GROWING UP WATCHING MY DAD,

HE LIVED BY EXAMPLE.

SO AS KIDS, HE STARTED TO SAY,

YOU KNOW, HE SACRIFICED TIME

WITH US BECAUSE HE WAS CHANGING

THE WORLD AT A YOUNG AGE.

AND WHEN WE LOOK AT THAT AND WE

LOOK AT WHAT OUR DAD DID AND HOW

HE DID IT, THAT WAS A GOOD

EXAMPLE FOR US.

HE SET A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR US

BECAUSE ANY TIME YOU'RE IN A

MAJOR TRIAL, TRIBULATION, YOU

CAN ALWAYS GO TO MY DAD'S STORY

AND SAY, WELL, THAT IS GOING TO

BE A DIFFICULT DECISION.

BUT IF YOU HAVE A CLEAR RIGHT

AND WRONG DECISION, YOU KNOW IT

IS NOT GOING TO BE ALWAYS EASY

TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION, BUT

YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT.

>> BRINGS US BACK.

SO AS YOUNG PEOPLE, HOW MUCH ARE

YOU WILLING TO SACRIFICE?

WHAT DOES THAT REALLY MEAN TO

YOU?

LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION ABOUT

PRODUCING THIS AND THEN A COUPLE

WRAP-UP QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK

THE BOTH OF YOU.

AT ONE OF THE MEDIA GATHERINGS,

KEN, YOU WERE ASKED ABOUT THE

IDEA OF OR THE SUGGESTION BY

SOMEBODY, SHOULD A PERSON OF

COLOR BE THE ONE WHO IS TELLING

THIS STORY ABOUT AN ICONIC BLACK

MAN?

NOW, WE ALL KNOW YOU CAN --

TODAY WE SHOULD JUST SAY AN

ICONIC MAN WHO HAPPENED TO BE

BLACK.

BUT THIS QUESTION WAS POSED TO

YOU.

AND THEN YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE

BASIC PREMISE BEHIND THAT

QUESTION.

TELL US WHAT YOU SAID SGLI'M IN

THE BUSINESS OF HISTORY.

I'VE BEEN DOING IT FOR 50 YEARS.

I LOVE EVERY PART.

AND THE KIND OF HISTORY WE WERE

INTERESTED IN IS A DEEP DIVE

INTO ALL OF HISTORY.

I HAVE, THROUGHOUT MY

PROFESSIONAL LIFE TRIED TO TELL

THE STORY OF THIS COUNTRY IN AN

INCREDIBLY INCLUSIVE WAY, WHICH

MEANS WE'RE GOING TO BE TALKING

ABOUT RICE THAT'S AT THE HEART

OF IT AND TELLING STORIES FROM A

VARIETY OF DIFFERENT

PERSPECTIVES.

WE DO THAT WITH TEAMS OF

PRODUCERS AND EDITORS.

IN THIS CASE THREE OUT OF THE

FOUR EDITORS ON THIS FILM WERE

AFRICAN-AMERICAN.

WE HAVE ADVISERS AND PEOPLE WHO

APPEAR IN THE FILM THAT ARE FROM

DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS AND DO THAT

AND SPEAK TO THEIR PERSONAL

OPINIONS.

WE CELEBRATE THE IDEA THAT

EVERYBODY SHOULD BE TELLING

THEIR STORY, THAT EVERYBODY

SHOULD HAVE A VOICE, THAT THERE

SHOULD BE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD,

THAT THERE SHOULD BE A PLACE AT

THE TABLE FOR AS MANY

PERSPECTIVES AS POSSIBLE.

BUT I DON'T EXPECT THE FACT THAT

A CERTAIN KIND OF PERSON CAN

TELL A CERTAIN KIND OF STORY

ABOUT OUR PAST.

I KNOW YOU, JACK, HAVE DONE

STORIES ABOUT INTEGRATION

YOURSELF.

I MEAN, WE DON'T WANT TO

PRECLUDE THAT.

AND I'M REMINDED OF A QUOTE BY

DR. KING WHO SAID ALL LIFE IS

INTERRELATED.

ALL PEOPLE ARE CAUGHT IN AN

INESCAPABLE NETWORK OF MUTUALITY

TIED IN A SINGLE GARMENT OF

DESTINY.

THIS BEAUTIFUL WOMAN HERE THAT I

MET TODAY FOR THE FIRST TIME,

THOUGH I FELT LIKE I HAVE KNOWN

HER FOR YEARS AND YEARS AND

YEARS.

SARA DID THE ORIGINAL INTERVIEW.

SHE AND I ARE OF THE SAME

FAMILY.

AS YOU SAY, WE NO LONGER HAVE

TO -- WE SHOULDN'T HAVE TO SAY

THE COLOR.

WE'RE TRYING TO GET TO A PLACE

WHERE WE DON'T HAVE TO DO THAT.

AND THAT'S AN AMERICAN HISTORY I

HAVE TRIED TO PRACTICE MY ENTIRE

LIFE, WHICH IS ONE THAT INCLUDES

THE EXPERIENCE OF ALL AMERICANS

AND DOESN'T REGULAR GAIT,

DOESN'T SEPARATE OUT A BLACK

STORY AND PUT IT IN FEBRUARY,

THE COLDEST AND SHORTEST MONTH

BUT REMINDS PEOPLE THAT THIS IS

AN INTEGRATED PART OF ALL OF OUR

HISTORIES.

IF WE WERE FOUNDED ON THE IDEA

THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL

AND THE GUY, A WHITE GUY WHO

WROTE THAT OWNED HUNDREDS OF

HUMAN BEINGS, WE'VE GOT TO DEAL

WITH IT.

ALL OF US HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT.

BLACK PEOPLE CERTAINLY HAVE HAD

TO SUFFER FROM THAT FOR 402

YEARS OF RACIAL OPPRESSION AND

WHITE SUPREMACY.

BUT ALL OF THE REST OF US ALSO

HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT IN AN

HONEST WAY.

YOU CAN'T LEGISLATE THE

UNTEACHING OF IT, AS TEXAS IS

TRYING TO DO.

SO I SPENT MY ENTIRE

PROFESSIONAL LIFE TRYING TO TELL

THAT STORY.

>> LET ME ASK.

I'VE GOT ABOUT TWO MINUTES LEFT

HERE.

I'LL ASK YOU THIS QUESTION IF WE

CAN.

WE BOTH TALKED ABOUT THE IDEA

THAT THESE ARE A JOURNEY.

KEN, YOU AND I TALKED ABOUT THIS

BEFORE.

YOU'RE TAKING US ON A JOURNEY OF

DISCOVERY.

I THOUGHT I KNEW ALMOST

EVERYTHING ABOUT MOHAMED ALI.

I FOUND OUT I DIDN'T WHEN I SAW

THIS.

I REMEMBER THE GAS BURST AND

THEN THE ERUPTION OF EMOTION.

MY QUESTION TO YOU IS, WHAT DID

YOU LEARN?

WHAT DID YOU LEARN THAT YOU

DIDN'T KNOW?

>> WOW.

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, TO YOUR LAST

QUESTION, MY DAD BELIEVED IN

INCLUSION.

AND HE BELIEVED IN TOGETHERNESS

AND THAT WE WERE STRONGER AND

MORE POWERFUL AS A NATION, AS A

PEOPLE THAN IN ONE NATION.

SO TRUTH DOESN'T HAVE A COLOR.

AND I THINK IF MY DAD TOLD KEN

TODAY THANK YOU FOR DOING -- FOR

TELLING HIS STORY BECAUSE IT IS

THE TRUTH, AND HE WOULD BE SO

HON ORED AND PLEASED THAT THE

TRUTH IS OUT AND THAT WE ALL ARE

ONE PEOPLE.

AND IF IT IS THE TRUE STORY,

THEN MY DAD WOULD BE HAPPY WITH

IT.

THAT'S TO THE LAST QUESTION THAT

YOU POSED.

>> I HAVE GOT ABOUT A MINUTE

LEFT.

>> OKAY, OKAY.

>> SO WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT THIS

PARTICULAR STORY IS THAT MY DAD

WAS FLAWED, BUT I DIDN'T REALIZE

THAT HE REALLY WAS BEHIND THE

EIGHT BALL MOST OF HIS LIFE AND

THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS THAT

HE FACED, HE LITERALLY PUSHED

THROUGH HIS SIX CORE PRINCIPALS

THAT HE'S PRACTICED THROUGHOUT

HIS ENTIRE LIFE TO BE ABLE TO

BECOME SUCCESSFUL.

AND THE ROOT OF HIS TRIALS, IT

CAME -- IT STEMMED FROM HIS

FAITH.

AND, SO, WITHOUT THAT FAITH, I

THINK HE WOULD HAVE HAD A REALLY

DIFFICULT TIME WITH ALL OF THE

ANIMOSITY AND HATE THAT CAME HIS

WAY AND I THINK IT WAS THE FAITH

THAT DROVE HIM TO GREATNESS, TO

THE GREAT MAN THAT HE IS TODAY.

>> THAT'S A GREAT MESSAGE FOR US

TO ALL LEARN FROM THIS.

WHEN WE HAVE MORE TIME, I WILL

ASK YOU WHAT YOU SAID BEFORE.

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH

ANY ONE PERSON, I KNOW YOU SAID

ABRAHAM LINCOLN, LOUIS ARMSTRONG

AND MOHAMED ALI.

>> WE SHOULD EXPAND THE TABLE.

>> WOULDN'T THAT BE WONDERFUL?

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

KEN, ALWAYS A PLEASURE.

FABULOUS FILM.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

>> THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

GREAT.

>>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE

POSSIBLE BY --

SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA

PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT

ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN

GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN

FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN

FOUNDATION.

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