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Humanities Significance

The project situates Houston, Texas, in the mid to late 1960s as a key time and space in the ongoing struggle for social justice and civil liberties (e.g., religious freedom, free speech, due process) in America.  Thus, a key dimension of the project ultimately attempts to understand how Ali’s struggle for religious freedom informed Houstonians’ understandings of the “Modern” or “Long” Civil Rights Movement.  It seeks to preserve the city’s collective memory of social protest and opposition to war for future generations.
Muhammad Ali’s conscientious objection to participation in war stands as a monument to the human struggle for peace and remains an internationally recognized symbol linking non-violent civil protest, religious faith and social change.  Nevertheless, there remains no comprehensive body of oral records dedicated to investigating the impact of Ali’s decision on local or regional politics, religious identity and social protest, or free speech and professional sports in Houston, Texas, and the Gul Coast.