Interview with Herbert Muhammad
QUESTION 7
SAM POLLARD:

OK, Mr. Muhammad, tell me the story about your father talking to you about calling Cassius, about changing his name.

HERBERT MUHAMMAD:

Yes, ah, yes, ah, why, when, ah, my father called me on the phone about changing, ah, ah, Cassius Clay name to Muhammad Ali--Ali was in training for this upcoming Sonny Liston fight, and he told me that get in touch with him if I could and let him know that his name was, has been changed, he was changing his name from Cassius Marcellus Clay, to Muhammad Ali. And that this name would connect him with five billion Muslims all around the world, and they would rally behind him and he would become like a Statue of Liberty in the harbor of New York, that everyone would want to see him and, ah, that everyone would want his autograph. And this have became a fact.

SAM POLLARD:

OK.


SAM POLLARD:

I want to ask you that one again


SAM POLLARD:

OK, Mr. Ali, Mr. Muhammad, tell me about your father talking to you about calling Ali, to change his name Clay.

HERBERT MUHAMMAD:

Yes. My, my father called me concerning to change, ah, Mu- Cassius Clay name at the time, to Muhammad Ali, because in our, ah, religious organization at that time, we, our philosophy was that the Black people, the once slaves should not carry the name of their once slave masters, that theys[SIC], they name should be identified with, with their origin, and since Muhammad Ali was a Muslim, he should carry a Muslim name. And that name he gave him was "Muhammad Ali," and he told me if--

SAM POLLARD:

That was good, they ran out, that was good, that was good, you ran out--



SAM POLLARD:

OK, Mr. Muhammad, tell me about your father calling and talking to you about calling Clay and changing his name and why he had to change his name and what it would mean.

HERBERT MUHAMMAD:

Yes, my father called me, this was in the early '60s, in February, ah, when Ali was, ah, at that time called Cassius Clay, but he was getting ready for his upcoming fight against Sonny Liston. My father called me and told me that, ah, to call Ali and get in touch with him and let him know that his name should not be Cassius Clay, that Cassius Clay identifies him with his slave master. And since he's a Muslim he's a free man, and he's a free person, and he's, and a Muslim, and id- identifies him with five billion Muslim all around the world, and his name would be known as Muhammad Ali, ah, from and on. And--