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Obama Tribute: ‘Muhammad Ali Was America’

A Senior Adviser to the President, Valerie Jarrett, read a statement from her boss at the funeral for sports and cultural icon Muhammad Ali.

“Muhammad Ali was America, Muhammad Ali will always be America,” she read. The President called him “a loud and proud and unabashedly black voice in a Jim Crow world.” Yet, the letter noted, he was “brash, defiant, pioneering, joyful.”

“He was our most basic freedoms: religion, speech, spirit. He embodied our ability to invent ourselves.”
“His life spoke to our original sin of slavery and discrimination and the journey he traveled help to shock our consciousness and lead us to a roundabout path toward salvation,” she continued.
“And like America, he was always very much a work-in-progress.”

From the Hill:

Rev. Kevin Cosby, a pastor in Louisville and the ceremony’s first speaker, invoked Martin Luther King Jr. in his remarks on MLK speaking of his mother instilling in him “a sense of somebodiness,” with Cosby remarking on hundreds of years of “nobodiness” for people of color. 
 
Ali “took the ethos of somebodiness to unheard heights,” said the pastor, who is African-American. “He dared to love black people at a time when black people had a problem loving themselves.” 
 
Ali was buried Friday at a cemetery in Louisville, Ky.,, after a car carrying his remains drove through his hometown and thousands along the miles-long processional route chanted his name and threw flowers on his hearse. 
 
Jarrett said her uncle’s son was one of the pallbearers, with others including actor Will Smith, Mike Tyson and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis.

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