Civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend of Muhammad Ali, says the boxer's impact extended far beyond the ring. He called the boxer a "social transformer" who used his fame to attack injustice during the civil rights struggle.
"From Texas across, from Florida up to Maryland, we couldn't use a single public toilet," Jackson said. "We couldn't use the libraries or the theaters or sit in the public parks. Ali identified with that struggle, used his person and his fame to illuminate that state of moral darkness in our country."
Jackson said he believed that decades later Ali reveled in being celebrated by those who once rejected him for his outspoken activism.
"That he had come full circle from being reviled to being revered, from being dismissed to being embraced," Jackson said. "I think he found a certain joy in that."
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