Vol. 3, No. 1: Rainbow Curve photo

On This Day in History, 1967: Muhammad Ali refuses Army induction*Sean Murphy

It must have been something to stand, looking out

at the smoke-lit masses, most dressed for weddings

(or, more appropriately, a funeral), having thrown

down dough and placed their best bets on which

black man would beat the other’s brains in, alive

at the end of fifteen rounds (if necessary), to be crowned

king of the ring, and realize: these men could make or lose

money on what you did with your fists & those same hands

aren’t fit to shake or touch their wives, or do anything

other than serve for or clean up after them, the same

as it always was until certain two-faced & gullible types,

guilt-ridden about God’s will, turned this country inside

out—and where does it end, lying down with animals?

It must have been something to know these same folks—most

safely past draft age—would see the flag to which they pledged

allegiance happy fighting to the last drop of others’ blood & stay

heavyweight champion of the world, also KOing the proliferation

of Communist rebellion, a kind of one-two punch to sustain

a great white hype, reminding certain folks about their place

and why they best be content w/ table scraps, all other things

considered, and had a few battles in the South gone differently

we wouldn’t be in this mess, and anyway, what’s done is done

but how dare any of you people get uppity enough to even think

twice about who’s in charge and writes the checks; don’t forget:

you get made and you can get unmade—that’s the American Way.


(*On April 28, 1967, with the United States at war in Vietnam, boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces, saying “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Vietcong.” Ali was convicted of draft evasion, stripped of his title, sentenced to five years in prison, and banned from boxing for three years.)