LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - April 12 was the start of Ramadan, a Muslim holiday marked by a month of fasting, introspection and prayer. To kick off the 2021 event, Louisville Public Radio aired a new special to highlight its most famous Muslim, Muhammad Ali.
From America Abroad Media and the Muhammad Ali Center, “The Universal Title – Muhammad Ali’s Spiritual Journey” takes an in-depth look at his childhood in the 1940′s, why he chose to convert to Islam, his unique journey as a Muslim, and how that led to his role as a civil rights activist.
“We really focus on his youth and growing up in Louisville,” said Aaron Lobel, America Abroad Media Founder & President. “We interview his senior pastor from his Baptist church. We interviewed some of his childhood friends and obviously family members. So Louisville plays not only a very important part in his story but in the one-hour radio special.”
The one-hour audio special aired on public radio across the U.S. Monday evening. The six-episode podcast will be released on Friday, April 16. It includes interviews with Ilyasah Shabazz, Lonnie Ali, Maryum and Hana Ali, Imam Zaid Shakir, and many others.
“Muhammad Ali was part of a Black Power movement was vocalizing things and claiming and empowering greatness for himself in the 1960s when it was almost unthinkable for a black boxer to assert himself like that,” Series Producer Maggie Van Dorn said. “So I think it’s pretty clear today just how meaningful Ali’s story is, how meaningful it was then and how meaningful it is today.”
The series asks questions about religion, spirituality, civil rights and how Ali became a voice of a generation.
“We are just a slice of this team,” Series Producer Maggie Van Dorn said. “Precious Rasheeda Muhammad is an incredible writer and researcher and I think when we’re talking about representation it’s so important that her work be seen and recognized, and Ahmed Ali Akbar as well.”