CREDOS: Reconciliation — III

Muhammad Ali:

They caught the people that did it and put them on trial, but an all-white jury found the defendants not guilty — even though there had been eyewitness testimony that the defendants had been the ones who had kidnapped the boy. Emmett’s mother said, “When something like that happened to the Negroes in the south, I said, “That’s their business, not mine.” Now I know how wrong I was. The murder of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us anywhere in the world had better be the business of us all.” I believe that this is true.

I knew that my heart could harden in a world with so much pain, confusion, and injustice. Somehow, I knew that if I were going to survive, I could not become bitter. I would have to love even those who could not give it in return. I would have to learn to forgive even those who would not-or my soul would wither away.

When I looked in the mirror I was proud of what I saw, but there were many black people who didn’t want to be black anymore. Little black boys had no public role models. We didn’t have any heroes who looked like us.

There was no one for us to identify with, and we didn’t know where we fit in. Even pictures of Jesus Christ were always white. I was taught that Jesus was the son of God, and I wondered if God looked like Jesus, too. Jesus was always depicted with long blond hair and blue eyes. Then I noticed how all the angels in pictures were white. There were never any pictures of black angels. And everyone at the Last Supper was white. So, one day, I asked my mother, “What happens to us when we die? Do we go to heaven?”

“Naturally, we go to heaven,” she said. —