Check out Hayden practicing his speech:
From The Top:
Now, Hayden loves drama and acting, and wants to go all out and do his presentation in full character, as though he IS Muhammad Ali. We’re talking the whole shebang: boxing gloves, robe, and…brown makeup on his face.
Two unedited phone calls from Bert’s friends (who will remain anonymous) about the issue:
And the debate begins:
Another Atlanta station, V103 picked up the debate and it blows up all over again:
Both sides are coming forward with strong opinions. From white privilege to respect, it’s getting heated:
As fate would have it, Bert has a friend who’s actually attending Muhammad Ali’s birthday party in Kentucky – and they’ve agreed to pass along a letter about Hayden’s project to him. The letter:
What listeners think about the letter, regardless of what Mrs. Ali has to say:
Some of Bert’s friends have some very strong opinions on how deep-seated race really is:
And Bert Show listeners have some commentary on that call:
And while listeners are split on the decision, Bert feels very alone on the show with his opinion…
Bert Show friend & Biggest Loser trainer, Dolvett, says absolutely not:
The Letter to Muhammad Ali
“Dear Mr. Ali,
First. My family and I wish you the happiest of birthdays.
I was hoping to get your opinion on what has become a very controversial subject in my community. My 9-year-old son was given an assignment to do a class biography on a “Great American.” The list his teacher gave him to choose from included names like George Washington, Abe Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and yours. He selected you.
I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Your life exemplifies so many things that my son can learn from; living life with your own truth, your pursuit of education, the way you challenge yourself, the way you have lived your life with love and the pride you exhibit in your unbending passion about your race and faith. All beautiful lessons that he can pull from your life.
He wants to present his biography “as” Muhammad Ali. His idea was to wear a boxing robe and boxing gloves and also wanted to apply brown make up to his Caucasian face to accurately portray your skin color. The idea initially made me flinch because I understand how demeaning, insulting and damaging that minstrels and blackface performances were to an entire race of people.
But to my 9 year old this isn’t a demeaning or an insulting act at all. My son wants to accurately portray you and honor you. You have such great pride in your color and faith that you lost four years of championship, almost went to jail and were publicly ridiculed for your decision. You spent your life fighting for equality.
Considering the racial history of our country couldn’t we point to true change when a 9-year-old Caucasian boy pridefully applies dark make up to his face to make him look black? Unheard of just 50 years ago.
Or is the minstrel and blackface history so damaging and so hurtful that any connection at all to it’s history will be considered insulting in a way that a white family can’t truly understand but simply must respect?
It is an honor to know that you simply looked at this letter. My sincerest hope is that you don’t find it insulting and understand that I send it in hopes of better educating my son and myself.
A response that I could share with my son would be extraordinary but certainly not expected. Either way this will be a teachable moment for my family and one I would cherish if I could get your input.
With sincerest gratitude and respect,