Muhammad Ali continues to inspire Louisville community

The Community Connections Radio Show hosted an event at the Muhammad Ali Center to celebrate Muhammad Ali’s 75th birthday on Jan. 14, with the purpose of inspiring the youth in our community and to promote the integration of of Muhammad Ali’s six core principles: dedication, conviction, confidence, respect, giving and spirituality.

James Linton, founder, president and host of the Community Connections Show decided to coordinate this event.

“We were sitting at home six weeks ago and I had to do something , we’ve had such a bad year in 2016 with a lot of murders, violence and crime, so we wanted to start off 2017 in a positive way,” Linton said. “Muhammad and Dr. King’s birthday is coming up, so we decided to kick off the weekend and base the program off our youth since they are the future.”

“I figured if we would have a program and invite 50 to 60 young people I thought it would be life changing if we taught them the six core principles Muhammad Ali lived his life around.”

Terry Meiners, WHAS radio and TV show host, was the host of the Community Connections Radio Show Youth Engagement Program. “I like being involved in events that are helping our community heal and advance, James Linton invited me and thought I could add a little something to it,” Meiners said. “We need to plant a flag on the future, so we need these events regularly just to remind people that we have valuable, thoughtful youth that are protecting a better future for us.”

Mohammed Wasif, the imam at the Imam River Road Mosque, provided the opening prayer.

Margaret Leavell Harris, vice president of Community Connections Radio Show, introduced the program along with James Linton.

Entertainment was provided by local artists and dancers who presented performance inspired by Muhammad Ali.

Barbra Sexton Smith, city councilwoman, provided a speech speaking about confidence, Muhammad Ali’s first core principal.

“Confidence is rooted in hope, and you have to instill hope in every person you meet, because hope breeds an attitude of possibility and possibility breeds self confidence,” Sexton said. “Self confidence is that power within each of us that helps us to accomplish our little part of the greater mission in life.”

The next of the six core principles is conviction, presented  by Steve Mudd, owner of Montgomery Chevrolet.

“Conviction is a belief that gives one the courage to stand behind that belief despite the pressure to do other wise,” Mudd said. “Conviction to me is having the will to overcome and get through your problems to become who we are today.”

“Conviction isn’t just a principle, it’s a way of life,” Mudd said.

Dedication, the third core principle, was provided by Vanessa Semigone instead of Meshorn Daniels who could not attend.

“You look at Muhammad Ali’s life, it took dedication from a young man who had his bike stolen with people telling him he couldn’t do something but he know in his heart he could, he got up and he pressed and the youth can do that,” Semigone said. “What does dedication mean? You gotta work if you want it to happen because that’s how we got to where we are and Muhammad Ali exemplified that in every form.”

Dr. Muhammad Babar, president of Muslim Americans for Compassion gave a speech about Muhammad Ali’s fourth principle, giving.

“Muhammad Ali belongs to a rare breed of mortals, whose giving nature has made them immortal until the end of time,” Babar said. “All the young people who will take these six core principles to the next level is heartwarming for somebody like myself.”

The fifth principle speech on respect, was provided by Christopher 2X, president of Hood 2 Hood.

“In the future  we must strive to influence young and old alike, to try to bridge the gap and use the core principle of respect throughout 2017 as a way to bring us closer,” Christopher 2X said.

The sixth principle, spirituality, was spoken about by Haleh Karimi, executive director of Interfaith Paths.

“To Muhammad Ali, spirituality meant a feeling of awe and inner peace inspired by a connection to all creations,” Karimi said. “Muhammad Ali was able to transform other people that he had met in his life to be inspired to do good things, to be better than what they are and be the greatest they can be.”

“He was beyond being a champion of peace, he was a true symbol of Islam, his faith and what he believed in his religion transformed him,” Karimi said. “I would like all of us to carry that torch of peace with us, to continue his passion to become one human race because we rise as one and fall as one.”

Sean Ali Waddell Jr, cousin of Muhammad Ali, also spoke at the event.

“He always kept his humor and his love for life but what he really stood for was freedom, justice and equality and those core principles Muhammad found in his knowledge of self,” said Waddell Jr. “Let’s make our community better by our efforts and our deeds and lets live the life Muhammad put forth for us.”

Ahmaad Edmund, minister at Pleasant View Baptist Church, also had a speaking role at the event.

“I hear the words of Dr. King that says if you’re not willing to stand for something, you’ll fall for anything and I believe that our community has fallen,” Edmund said. “But the thing about falling is that you can get back up, but the only way we can get back up is if we work together.”

“Confidence is one of my favorite core principles that Muhammad inspired many by, you have a purpose and a gift you just have to find it and when you do, you have to run with it,” Edmund said, “We are standing for something bigger than ourselves, but the only way that we will be able to achieve unity and a better Louisville is if we work together, build together, grow together as one people,” Edmund said.

“My message i gave today was for our community in louisville, to begin to work and clean up for ourselves but none of this can be solved by an outside source, it has to be solved by us,” Waddell Jr said. “My message is my passion, I can only speak on what I’m passionate about.”

“We has set some goals and we exceeded our goals, it was a great program and we plan to start doing stuff like this each and every month,” Linton said.