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“I Am America”

Racial Justice Programming Series

For 15 years the Muhammad Ali Center has proudly carried forth the legacy of one of the greatest men to ever walk the Earth, Muhammad Ali. While the moniker, GOAT, or the “Greatest of All Time,” is applied to Ali’s in-ring prowess, history anoints him as such for the sacrifices he made outside of the ring in his pursuit of social justice. Known as the “Louisville Lip” for his brash taunts to boxing opponents, this nickname also came to symbolize Muhammad’s unwavering commitment to using his voice to speak out on the injustices he experienced as a Black, Muslim man in America.

As our country once again experiences the heartache and pain with the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many others, the Muhammad Ali Center unequivocally proclaims that #BlackLivesMatter. We stand in solidarity with those who understand that racism is not a past-tense problem, but is both systemic and institutional, and will not be erased without intentional and concerted effort and action.

To honor this commitment, the Muhammad Ali Center is proud to introduce a programmatic series of bold, courageous and provocative conversations to explore the most pressing racial justice challenges of the day.  Named after Muhammad Ali’s famous quote, “I Am America. I am the part you won’t recognize,” this unique program will offer critical analysis of the history and intersectionality of social justice issues, while offering action steps for those wanting to create positive social change.

During the continued Covid19 crisis, these sessions will be conducted virtually to support the health and safety of our community. This program will take place every other Wednesday, but the recorded sessions will be available through the Ali Center’s website after each event.

The 2021 Series is sponsored by:

Registration is FREE, but required, for all of these events.
$10 suggested donation is appreciated.

“I Am America”: Racial Justice Series Details are below:

I Am America:  Examining the Intersections of Racism and Islamophobia

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

12:00-1:00 PM EST

Islamophobia has long been a part of racism and prejudice within the United States. During this discussion, our panel of experts will explore the intersections of racism and religion specifically through the lens of Muslim Americans. Our panelists will discuss the social implications of persistent Islamophobia in the United States, and the tremendous damage caused to our communities when bigotry and racism toward Muslims remains largely ignored and unaddressed by institutions of influence and power.  Our conversation will conclude with opportunities for compassionate action and inclusive community-building within Muhammad’s home city of Louisville, KY and beyond.


  • Haleh Karimi, Assistant Professor of Management at Bellarmine University
  • Edward Ahmed Mitchell, Deputy Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Dr. Muhammad Babar, President of Muslim Americans for Compassion and Muhammad Ali Center Board Member
  • Ozair Shariff, Corporate Counsel at Churchill Downs Incorporated

“I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace.” –Muhammad Ali

To Register please complete our online form:

The 2021 I Am America Program Series is sponsored by LG&E and KU Energy

“I am America.  I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.” –Muhammad Ali


Past “I Am America” Programs:

Racism and COVID-19: Combating a Pandemic and Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

While the United States saw a spike in COVID-19 infections, intolerance and racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) simultaneously increased. In 2020, hate crimes against AAPI rose nearly 150 percent, putting families and communities in jeopardy. During this discussion, panelists will explore how xenophobic rhetoric and Anti-Asian discrimination has caused violence and fear in our country, while providing actionable steps in how we can keep our AAPI neighbors safe. 


  • Bryan Warren, Senior Consultant for the Office for Globalization, a Division of Louisville Forward in Louisville Metro Government

This program is in partnership with The Office for Globalization and Lean Into Louisville

I Am America: The Long Road to Justice

At the age of 26, in conscientious objection to the Vietnam war, Muhammad Ali stated, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?” A half-century later, another 26 year old Louisvillian, Breonna Taylor, was denied her human rights as she was shot and killed by police in her home. During this virtual program, our esteemed panel will explore the “long road to justice” examining our profoundly troubled history of policing and race. We will discuss how police brutality, racial discrimination, and the dehumanization of black and brown bodies are rooted in US history, and how deeply seated systemic racism continues to inform the criminalization and policing of communities of color.  We will conclude with a call to action, honoring Breonna’s life and legacy by ensuring that this injustice never happens again. 


  • Bennie Ivory: Vice Chair, Muhammad Ali Center Board of Directors 
  • Keturah Herron: Policy Strategist, ACLU of Kentucky
  • Pastor Timothy E. Findley Jr.: CEO, Life Development Corporation, and Founder, Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center  


Roula Allouch: Attorney and Chair, Muhammad Ali Center “Road to Justice” Committee

This IS America

On the day of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, President Joe Biden (then President-Elect) stated in his address to the nation that “this was not America.” In this program, we challenge this declaration. Our panel examines the deep historical role race and racism have played, and continue to play, in our political landscape and our country as a whole. Our panelists discuss the importance of owning up to our history, and the dangers that occur when we fail to hold ourselves accountable.

  • Dr. Ricky L Jones: Chair, Pan African Studies Dept., University of Louisville
  • Dr. Torie Weiston-Serdan: CEO, Youth Mentor Action Network
  • Shawn Dove: Founder, Corporation for Black Male Achievement

Moderator: Donald Lassere, President & CEO, Muhammad Ali Center

Watch This Is America on Facebook HERE

Youth should be Seen AND Heard: Amplifying Youth Voice & Leadership in Social Movements

This program acknowledges the pivotal and historical role that young people have played in movement-building as we sit down with current youth activists in Louisville and hear their insight and perspectives.

  • Jailen Leavall – Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center Senior Fellow
  • Imani Smith – One Love Louisville Youth Implementation Team member & Youth Coalition Louisville Organizer
  • Aubri Stevenson – Muhammad Ali Center Council of Students alum & Youth Organizer
  • Moderated by Darryl Young Jr., Muhammad Ali Center Manager of Programming

Watch Youth Should Be Seen AND Heard on Facebook HERE.

Healthy at Home? Healthy at Work?:  Viewing the Covid19 Crisis through a Racial Justice Lens

“Healthy at home? Healthy at work?” invited a panel of experts to examine community health and wellbeing from a racial justice perspective.  Through this discussion,  we explored the racial disparities we see in our community’s health outcomes—both historically and currently—as  we continue to battle the Covid19 crisis. We specifically examined the disproportionate impact on front-line workers and Black Americans.

  • Dr. Brandy Kelly Pryor, Humana Foundation
  • T Gonzales, Director of the Center for Health Equity
  • Trinidad Jackson- Ph.D. Candidate in the University of Louisville School of Public Health
  • Dr. Daryl Williams, DPT – Clinic Director for ProRehab Physical Therapy’s Highland Branch
  • Moderated by Dr. Steven Kniffley Jr., Associate Director for the Spalding University Center for Behavioral Health

Watch Healthy at Work? Healthy at Home? on Facebook HERE.

Believing in a Better World: Talking with Children about Race and Racial Violence

Flyaway Books and the Muhammad Ali Center hosted a virtual panel discussion with the creators of the brand-new picture book, For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World. Inspired by real-life events, the book tells the story of a boy named Jeremiah and his family who discover hopeful forms of activism and advocacy in response to racism and gun violence in their community. For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World includes a discussion and activity guide created by the Muhammad Ali Center that explores racism, gun violence, and social change.

This special event was moderated by Emmy award-winning journalist Jean West of Jean West’s Medical Digest, and panel guests include:

  • Michael W. Waters – Author of For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World
  • Keisha Morris – Illustrator of For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World
  • Erin E. Herbert – Director of programming at the Muhammad Ali Center and co-writer of the guide
  • Darryl Young, Jr. – Manager of Programming at the Muhammad Ali Center and co-writer of the guide

Together panel guests discussed how adults can talk with children about race and racial violence within the context of For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World

Watch Believing in a Better World on Facebook HERE.

You can’t be Neutral:  White Anti-racism Past and Present 

This special program is in partnership with the University of Louisville, Anne Braden Institute for Social Justice Research (ABI), Louisville Showing Up for Racial Justice & The Carl Braden Memorial Center.

From the abolitionists to the Civil Rights Movement to so-called “color-blindness” to today’s uprisings, a few whites have always joined Black and brown people in the struggle for racial justice.  Too few, often marginalized or drowned out by white supremacist voices, white anti-racists are increasing in number in 2020.  Through this timely and important discussion, our panelists will explore:  What does it mean to choose sides in the battle for racial equity historically and today?  What kind of culture and values will help white anti-racist spaces and numbers grow? And how is liberation for all of us tied to Black Liberation?

Panelists include:

  • Carla Wallace—ABI Community Council Co-chair, LSURJ Co-founder, and Fairness Campaign Co-founder
  • Shameka Parrish-Wright—ABI Community Council co-chair and Director of Bail Project Louisville
  • Hannah White—University of Louisville  Senior History and Spanish major whose research focuses on southern anti-racist organizing of the 1970s
  • Dr. Cate Fosl—ABI Director and Historian, Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Author of Subversive Southerner: Anne Braden and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Cold War South

Watch You Can’t Be Neutral on Facebook HERE.

Debunking the Myth of Colorblindness: How White Allies can move from a Not Racist mindset to Anti-Racist Action

In this discussion, we explore the myth of color blindness in America. Our panel examines how the seemingly benevolent idea of not seeing race actually helps perpetuate racism in our society.

Our panelists include:

  • Dr. Cedric Powell from the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law
  • Ryan Simpson, Program Director for The University of Louisville Health Science Campus’ Office for Diversity & Inclusion
  • Moderated by Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, Executive Advisor for the Kentucky Department of Behavioral Health

Watch Debunking the Myth of Colorblindness on Facebook HERE.

Beyond Black History Month: Bringing Racial Justice Conversation Into Classrooms

In this program we discuss ways to incorporate racial justice into school curriculum beyond just one month a year. Our panel examines how teachers can create diverse, inclusive and equitable classrooms that go beyond merely acknowledging accomplishments of African Americans and people of color.

Our panelists include:

  • Ashleigh Hazley, Assistant Director from the University of Louisville’s Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice
  • Dr. Shelley Thomas, Assistant Department Chair and Associate Professor from the University of Louisville’s College of Education and Human Development
  • Cassandra Webb, Senior Associate of Strategy and Innovation for Cities United
  • Moderated by Enid Trucios-Haynes, Director of the University of Louisville’s Muhammad Ali Institute for Peace and Justice, and professor at thee University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law

Watch Beyond Black History Month on Facebook HERE.

Bridging The Racial Wealth Gap

In this discussion we will examine the policies and structures that help perpetuate staggering racial disparities in wealth in America. Our panel will discuss how this gap was created, why it persists and ways to combat it.

Our panelists include:

  • Keisha Deonarine, Executive Director, Nspire,
  • Daryle Unseld, Chief Equity Officer, Metro United Way,
  • Mary Grissom, Senior Program Officer, Community Foundation of Louisville
  • Moderated by Anthony Smith, CEO, Cities United

Watch Bridging the Racial Wealth Gap on Facebook HERE.

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