Mohammed Ali appeared on the WGBH program Say Brother in 1968

Muhammed Ali appeared on the WGBH program Say Brother in 1968

Remembering Muhammed Ali: Boston 1968, Former 'Say Brother' Host Looks Back

June 7, 2016

Boxing great Muhammed Ali proclaimed himself "The Greatest" and since his death last Friday, dozens of stories and remembrances are being written about him as a champion African-American athlete and boxer, and a significant role model on issues regarding race, civil rights, and social activism.

WGBH reached out to Stewart Thomas, former host of the WGBH program "Say Brother," who back in 1968 interviewed Muhammed Ali, one of many well-known African-American figures who visited Boston.

Stewart was astonishingly young -- only 16-years old -- at the time he hosted the program. He now lives in Hollywood, Florida. He tells WGBH Morning Edition host Bob Seay that Ali was a young man visiting Boston in 1968, and it was a time of turmoil.

He ( Muhammed Ali) was telling people to stand up and look around and have people respect you.

Stewart Thomas, former host of the WGBH program, Say Brother

"During Ali's appearance there was a lot of upheaval in Boston and people were speaking about the injustices going on, " Thomas says. "Ali came to The Elma Lewis Center of African American Arts, and in coming to Boston his interview and appearance made an impact on African Americans living in the city."

"He was telling people to stand up and look around and have people respect you. He said during the interview it was a pivotal time and to stand up and pay attention to being black, and that the world needed to know that we existed and that weren't responsible for the injustices going on," according to Thomas.

Thomas says that the heavy-weight champion got his confidence from his background. That he wanted to be more than what people said he could be, and that the world didn't have to look at him the way it did, and that he was more than just a black man from the South; he proved that by his accomplishments. He showed that his self-confidence was a guiding force to change.

"His legacy as it affected me," and according to Thomas, "he was the reason why I became a conscientious objector."

In his view, Thomas says, "Ali was the greatest with his humanitarian attitude, and that he was a person who could be viewed as a strong man, who lived up to his convictions even though people may not have agreed with his stand, he showed that a man could do that, and that it was an important value."

"He had a great impact on young people back then, very impressive and important at that time in the history of the country."

To listen to the entire interview with Stewart Thomas and WGBH's Bob Seay click on the audio file above.


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