Interview with Muhammad Ali
QUESTION 13
SAM POLLARD:

Last question. Why was it important to you, and I know why but I want you to tell the audience, to change your name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali?

MUHAMMAD ALI:

Well, why it was important to me when I first heard the teachings that when Blacks came here, the people watching this interview, what's your name?

SAM POLLARD:

Sam.

MUHAMMAD ALI:

Sam what?

SAM POLLARD:

Pollard.

MUHAMMAD ALI:

Sam Pollard is White. He's originally got a European name. I met a brother, he had dashiki, African robes, sandals, real Black, I said, "What's your name?" He said, "George Washington." Afro named George Washington. I said, "Mr. Clay here, 200 years ago they called Clay property, so the Jones is Jones. These are names that are names that identified us as the property of certain masters. But the day you're free, you don't belong to Clay and Jones. So, you know how you look, well, in Africa, what's your name? George Washington? There are Africans all over Africa. They don't know if a Negro Christian is a any other. They're all over Chicago. They're in California. Africans, other people, how does the White man know? What's your name? Ching Chong. A White man named Ching Chong. That's Chinese there. That's their culture. So, not too many Muhammad Ali, all of a sudden they start saying, "He's the world's most known man." It's not because I box, Sugar Ray is good, Floyd Patterson is good, Joe Louis was good. It was because Muhammad Ali is in Africa, all over Africa, the name is in Ethiopia, Morocco, Syria, Indonesia, Pakistan, Turkey, Algiers, Saudi Arabia. Muhammad Ali is common when I traveled. Muhammad is the most common name in the world. There are more people on Earth, every third a person is a Muslim in the world. So when I took the name Muhammad Ali and I fought, I'd say this, Floyd Patterson, "In this corner Muhammad Ali!" All the people in the arena says, "What?" The whole world jumped because this is a common name. You mean in America we have a Muhammad Ali fighting? So, my father's name was Cassius Clay. His father's name was Cassius and myself's name, and my great-grandaddy, who was a slave, worked for the original Cassius Clay from Kentucky. So, we know I'm not no slave now. It's funny, that's how an old name, how one name for a good amount of people, it all started in Kentucky. You saw Roots? Alex Haley? Alex Haley knows that we was made slaves. He knows that this happened, they took our names, but after making that movie, I was surprised to see he still kept the name Alex Haley, so. If I say, here come Ching Chong, you look for a Chinaman, here comes Lumumba, Africa, here comes Weinstein, Jew, here come Morningstar, Indian. Here come Miltonberger, German. Here come Jones, don't know what color he is 'til you see him. So we don't have our names. There's something about the American Black people still got slave names. I hear that. I love truth, I don't care if you go to church or mosque or synagogue. I don't care if your Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, I don't care what you are. When I hear the name, I want the truth. People watching this interview now, got slave names if they're Black. So, Muhammad Ali, you go away, you go to Syria Indonesia, Africa, put it over on them, you won't know who you are until you tell them your name. "What's your name?" "George Washington." They say, "He's a Negro." Man, nobody could argue with this. I challenge anybody watching the show, I'm embarrassing the nation. Prove I'm wrong, if you're Black and you have a European name, that's not your name. Now if you hear White people in the government, somebody tell me, "You ain't Muhammad Ali. You're wrong." No, nobody never said that's wrong. So, if you leave this country and go to Asia and Africa, all you is hear is national names is Hassan, Omar, Ishmael, Elijah, Muhammad, Ali, Akbar. These are the names of dark people. So, when we were made slaves in America and the names, we took their names. But our people are still slaves mentally. We can hear this, you can here what I'm saying, I don't know if you might or might not but you might keep your name when you leave here. This is a known fact. It's a White man's slave name. Hey now, you're free, why not buck Uncle Sam and pick you a pretty name to fit your Black people? Some people they don't admit it mentally 'til only dead men can hear. So why don't they wake up and we all want a beautiful name. My daughter wanted Rasheeda, not Sue-Ellen Mary, one named Jamillah. One name Laila. One named Hana. One named Miya, Kaliah. Pretty names that fit our people. So, that's why I changed my name.

SAM POLLARD:

That's an answer. OK.