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Attallah Shabazz, Bill Clinton & More Share Moments With Muhammad Ali During Memorial Service

Will Smith and Mike Tyson were pallbearers at the touching service honoring the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali. 

The legacy and strength of Muhammad Ali lived on in the touching words of his admirers, friends and family members in Louisville, Ky., during his memorial service on Friday (June 10.)

Over 15, 000 people were present at the KFC Yum Center in downtown Louisville to pay their respects to the humanitarian and beloved athlete. Years prior, Ali put together his own service and handpicked those who spoke at the memorial--Billy Crystal, Bryant GumbelRabbi Michael Lerner and former president Bill Clinton-- shared stories of joy, love and admiration they have for the greatest. 

Fans watched the political, spiritual and passionate service that summed up Ali's life mission online. Thousands of local fans also praised Ali as he was carried in a black Cadillac through his childhood home and through the street named after him.

Pallbearers included Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Will Smith, who portrayed him in the Oscar-nominated film, Ali.

Check out a few eulogies from the memorial, including the tear-jerking words of Attallah Shabazz, below.

Billy Crystal, Comedian 

On their 42 year friendship: "I couldn't believe it, my first time on TV and it was with Ali," he said referring to his infamous impersonation of the athlete. "I couldn't stop looking at him.... He was funny, he was beautiful.... He was so much more than a fighter." After the skit, Ali called Crystal, his little brother. "Here's the most famous Muslim man in the world, honoring his Jewish friend," he added. "I had so many funny moments with him. On the moment of impact, it lights up everything around it. His intense light shined on America. We were able to see clearly injustice.... Ali forced us to take a look at ourselves. He is gone, but he will never die, he was my big brother."

Lonnie Ali, widow of Muhammad Ali

On what Ali wanted the world to learn from his life: "Muhammad indicated that when the end came for him, he wanted us to use his life and his death as a teaching moment for young people, for his country and for the world," she said. "In effect, he wanted us to remind people who are suffering that he had seen the face of injustice. That he grew up in a segregation, and that during his early life he was not free to be who he wanted to be. But he never became embittered enough to quit or to engage in violence. It was a time when a young black boy his age could be hung from a tree. Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi, in 1955, whose admitted killers went free. It was a time when Muhammad’s friends, men that he admired, like brother Malcolm, Dr. King, were gunned down, and Nelson Mandela imprisoned for what they believed in. For his part, Muhammad faced federal prosecution. He was stripped of his title and his license to box, and he was sentenced to prison. But he would not be intimidated so as to abandon his principles and his values."

Natasha Mundkur, Council Member at the Muhammad Ali Center

On what she's learned from Ali: "His voice echoed through through hers, through mine and she picked up the rocks that were thrown at her and she threw them back with a voice so powerful, that it turned that pain she felt in her life into strength and tenacity," she said. The 19-year-old was inspired by Ali after learning about him in school. She also learned to be strong after she was bullied for her race and religion. "And, now that 8-year-old girl stands in front of you that Ali's cries still shakes those waves today. We are to find strength in our identities. Whether we are black or white, Asian or Hispanic, LGBT, disabled or abled bodied. Muslim or Jewish, Hindu or Christian, his cries represents those who have not been heard and it validates that idea that we are to be conformed into one normative standard. That is what it means to defeat the impossible. Impossible is not a fact, nor an opinion, impossible is nothing"

Attallah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X 

On Ali's legacy: “Muhammad Ali was part of a treasured fraternity, bequeathed to me by my dad," she said. She also shared Ali's grief, who didn't get to speak to Malcolm before his death. “A unifying topic was faith; an ecumenical faith, respect for all faiths, even if belonging to one religion or none, the gift of all faiths. He said: "We all have the one God. We just serve him differently. Rivers, lakes, plains, they all have different names – but they mean the same thing. Doesn’t matter if you are a Muslim or Christian or Jew – when you believe in God, you should believe all people are part of one family. Because if you love God, you can’t love only some of his children.“ Having Muhammad Ali in my life somehow sustained my dad’s breath in me – 51 years longer. Until now."

Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States

On Ali's mission to never be disempowered: "Finally after all the years that we have been friends, my enduring image of him is like a little reel in three shots: the boxer I thrilled to as a boy, the man I watched take the last steps to light the Olympic Flame when I was president, and I’ll never forget it, I was sitting there in Atlanta, by then we knew each other, by then I felt that I had some sense of what he was living with, and I was still weeping like a baby, seeing his hands shake and his legs shake and knowing by God he was gonna make those last few steps, no matter what it took, the flame would be lit the fight would be won the spirit would be affirmed, I knew it would happen. And then this. The children whose lives he touched. The young people he inspired. It’s the most important thing of all."

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Kentucky Catholic School Faces Backlash After Students Berate Indigenous Peoples March Protesters

Representatives from Kentucky's Covington Catholic High School have confirmed plans to look into their student body after several of their students appeared in a viral video harassing and mocking protesters at an Indigenous Peoples March.

The viral video above spread around the web Saturday (Jan. 19) a day after the protest that took place in Washington, D.C. Teens in the video were rocking "Make America Great Again" to support President Donald Trump and the anti-abortion March for Life demonstration that was also taking place on Indigenous Peoples Day.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports  Laura Keener, the communications director with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, released a statement about the video: "We are just now learning about this incident and regret it took place. We are looking into it."

In the video below, Indigenous elder Nathan Phillips of the Omaha tribe was reportedly performing a song meant to calm down the crowd when the large group of teens surrounded him, with one eye to eye as he and another elder chanted.

https://twitter.com/2020fight/status/1086476619877765120

In tears, Phillips recalled the incident, calling for an apology and that the teens would "put that energy into making this country really great." The teens also got their messages mixed up when they also screamed "build that wall" toward him.

"I heard them saying 'build the wall, build that wall,'" he said.  "This is indigenous land. We’re not supposed to have walls here. Before anyone came here there were no walls, we never even had prisons. We always took care of our elders, we took care of our children. We taught them right from wrong."

 

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#ipmdc #ipmdc19 #indigenousunited #indigenouspeoplesmarch #indigenouspeoplesmarch2019

A post shared by KC🇬🇺🌴🌴 (@ka_ya11) on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:42pm PST

Speaking to The Enquirer Vincent Schilling shared how Phillips has been attacked in the past for standing up for indigenous peoples. Schilling, who is a member of the Mohawk tribe, said Phillips was pelted with trash just a few years ago by Eastern Michigan University students who hosted a Native American-themed party.

"As a Native American journalist, I find this to be one of the most egregious displays of naïve – I can’t even say naïve. It’s racism. It’s blatant racism," Schilling said.

"The guy has just been through a lot. To see Mr. Phillips treated this way is an incalculable amount of disrespect, and it's absolutely unacceptable in Native culture. As a Native man, I’ve got it countless times myself I’ve been mocked, I’ve been teased, my culture has been ridiculed. This is just another brick in the wall. I wanted so bad to walk up to those kids and say, 'You know this is a Vietnam veteran, right?'"

Director Ava DuVernay slammed the teens for their behavior as well as a number of indigenous social justice figures.

Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I’m reposting this video from “ka_ya11” on IG. This man’s words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope. pic.twitter.com/BKOA40SVq5

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2019

Thank you for the kind shout-out @Ava

Nathan Phillips and I have shared in a sacred pipe ceremony to honor Native American veterans.

He is a Vietnam veteran, such behavior is terrible.

Again, thank you for your support. https://t.co/RRaQeEJFku

— Vincent Schilling (@VinceSchilling) January 19, 2019

The teens in the video haven't been identified.

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Man Exonerated After Serving 45 Years Forced To Sell Prison Artwork For Money

A Detroit man who served 45 years behind bars for a crime that he didn’t commit, is forced to sell his personal collection of artwork that he made in prison. Richard Phillips, 72, doesn’t have steady income at the moment, and his lawyer is currently battling the state of Michigan to get him compensated for the wrongful conviction that stole his freedom.

"I don't have an income right now," said Phillips while showing off his paintings to Fox 2 Detroit. "This is my income."

In the early 1970s, Phillips was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Gregory Harris. He was sentenced to life in prison but always maintained his innocence. “I would rather died in prison than admit to a crime I didn’t do,” Philips said.

Phillips was convicted through an eyewitness account implicating him and a second man, Richard Palombo. In 2010, Palombo admitted that Phillips had no involvement in the murder and that he didn’t even know him. A new investigation was launched in 2014, nearly 20 years later Phillips appealed his murder conviction.

Last March, Wayne County Prosecutors Kym Worthy dropped all charges against Phillips, officially freeing him from prison. “There’s nothing that I can say to bring back 40 years of his life. The system failed him. There’s no question about it,” Worthy said at the time. “This is a true exoneration. Justice is indeed being done today, but there’s nothing that we can do ... to bring back those years of his life.”

Art played a big part in helping maintain his sanity through the sentence. Though he remained optimistic, Phillips admitted that he never truly believed he would be released. To pass the time, he began painting. He pulled inspiration from everywhere: his favorite artists, photos and even tapped into some of the loneliness that he felt in prison. "It was created in a harsh environment. But it goes to show you that beauty can come from something ugly."

Last year, Detroit's Demond Ricks was awarded $1 million for spending 25 years in prison on a wrongful conviction. As it stands, Phillips is the longest-serving wrongfully convicted former prisoner in U.S. history.

Phillips' artwork will be on display at Michigan's Ferndale's Level One gallery beginning Jan. 18.

See more on his artwork in the video below.

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Gladys Knight Defends Decision To Perform National Anthem At Super Bowl Amid Criticism

Glad Knight says she wants to “give the National Anthem back its voice.” The music legend released a new statement defending her decision to sing  the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, next month, amid criticism from fans.

Several artists turned down offers to perform at the Super Bowl in protest of the league’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick. Knight clarified that her choice to sing has nothing to do with Kaepernick, and she doesn't exactly agree with the anthem being "dragged into the debate."

"I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight said in a statement to Variety. “It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

The 74-year-old singer also noted that she has been on the forefront of social justice issues for much of her career. "I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words,” Knight said. “The way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good.

"No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it,” she continued. “I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us."

Knight isn’t alone in catching heat for joining the Super Bowl lineup. Travis Scott and Big Boi, both of whom will perform with Maroon 5 at halftime, received backlash as well.

Earlier in the week, reports surfaced claiming Scott had a meeting with Kaepernick that ended with “mutual respect” and “understanding.” Kaepernick’s girlfriend and Hot 97 DJ, Nessa Diab, denied the report tweeting, “There is NO mutual respect and there is NO understanding for anyone working against @Kaepernick7 PERIOD. #stoplying.”

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