PICTURE: GETTY IMAGES There are many reasons to mourn Muhammad Ali and many accomplishments of his to eulogize. But the single largest of these may be how, through his one-man civil rights movement, he transformed the way Americans live. What Martin Luther King Jr. was to politics, Ali was to popular culture.Historically, the two men stood shoulder to shoulder, fighting the same battle for equality on two different fronts but with the same powerful result. In their wakes, America is both different and better.Ali’s contribution was an attitude that would become pervasive first in black America and then across large segments of the rest of America. It was predicated on violating the code of conduct that white America had long imposed on blacks. King used these rules against the oppressors. But Ali played the rascal. He mocked and flouted the rules, building a different kind of civil rights movement on the mockery.Ali didn’t just confront white America; he danced around it, jabbing at ...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now