Interview with Sonia Sanchez
QUESTION 23
INTERVIEWER:

What did you think when he joined the Nation?

SONIA SANCHEZ:

Most of the people I know...

INTERVIEWER:

I'm sorry, could you just say, "When he joined the Nation?"

SONIA SANCHEZ:

When Muhammad Ali joined the Nation it was a continuation of what we knew was happening already. Everyone had seen Malcolm down in his camp, ah, everyone has seen, knew that he was teaching him, instructing him at that particular time, so when he changed his name, we said very simply, that's his name. When people, in fact when people called him "Cassius Clay," we would say, "That's not his name. Call the brother by his name. His name is Muhammad Ali. Go on do it. Get it. Walk on." And we were very pleased and very happy.**. So it was not a bone of contention unless people wanted it to be. People who said, "I can't pronounce that name." Or, or "I don't want to pronounce that name," or what it meant, perhaps, at some point, that maybe, um, they thought that he had gotten to be too big. But the man knew what he was doing, could do it, did it and brought everybody along with him when he did it because he had that sense of himself, that sense that when he said, "I'm the greatest." You say, "Yes, you are. There's no doubt about that, Muhammad Ali. You are indeed the greatest, the greatest that ever done walked on this earth, whatever." And you believed that. But you also, again, this man was a gentle man. I mean he'd get out of the ring and then would grab your hand and be very gentle with you and said, "Did you like that sister? Did you like what I just did? Did I tell them really off? Ha, ha, ha, ha." And he'd laugh that laugh, that very infectious laugh and you would day, "Yes, you did," and that was good.