You might not think a feminist poet and a boastful boxer would have much in common. But when the poet is Nikki Giovanni and the boxer is Muhammad Ali, you would be wrong. And what I mean by that is that I was wrong when I made the same assumption, and I when I was surprised that the two had been close friends.
But then, it all made perfect sense. They share a kinship through radical politics, black pride, and a fractured moment in U.S. history. When Giovanni spoke at Chicago Public Library last weekend, she alluded to their shared politics by describing how disgusted she was when Ali was stripped of his title and banned from boxing after refusing to serve in Vietnam. “How could you be mad at a man who refused to go to war to kill someone?” she opined. “What kind of sense does that make?”
During her talk Giovanni also shared another story about violence, this time on a smaller scale. It was a strange and funny moment of parenting that seemed worthy of sharing as Mother’s Day approaches.
In the audio excerpt above, Giovanni describes how she let her young son work some things out for himself after a personal challenge from “The Greatest.”
Dynamic Range showcases hidden gems unearthed from ChicagoAmplified’s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Nikki Giovanni spoke at Chicago Public Library in April. Click here to hear the event in its entirety, and click here to subscribe to the DynamicRange podcast.