The Transformative Power of Sports in the American Civil Rights Movement

2344 Words Feb 24th, 2018 9 Pages
had a dream, but so did Cassius Clay, Jackie Robinson, and Bill Russell. Long before King’s famous “I Had a Dream” speech or Rosa Parks famous protest came something much simpler: Sports. Sports have always had the ability to open peoples eyes in a way that is more impactful than words or actions. The way that athletics can shape a person’s mind, or open one’s eyes to something beyond what one already believes, is incredible. They can get everyone to root for a common purpose, and for some, that was freedom. The integration of professional and collegiate athletics not only changed sports history, but helped shape American history.
Cassius Marcellus Clay was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 17, 1942, during a time when Louisville was severely segregated; African-Americans were often considered the ‘servant’ class, and the highest goal that many parents could realistically set for their children was being a clergymen or public school teacher. (1b. SV; SV, and SV.)Cassius Clay’s father was a billboard painter and his mother worked cleaning houses. Being an African-American in poverty wasn’t easy; in fact, Clay was mistreated from birth. His mother recalls a specific incident in a convenience store when he was very young. “…He wanted a drink of water and they wouldn’t give him one because of his color. That really affected him.” Clay eventually found boxing as a way to deal…
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