[Ads-l] FW from Barry Popik: Muhammad Ali quotes (plus Drew Bundini

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Mon Jun 6 15:15:34 UTC 2016

On Sun, 5 Jun 2016 04:42:19 Zone-0400 Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

Ali was a colored boy from behind the Cotton Curtain. In addition to 
being dialect-proper, _wisht_ shows that, among other things, he had a clear
understanding of the syntax and semantics of English tense.
<end quote>

I think that your use of "Cotton Curtain" is a misleading oversimplification.  Yes, Louisville in 1960 was a Southern city, but it was one of the most progressive-minded of major Southern cities, if not *the* most progressive-minded.

I remember the publicity when Muhammed Ali (then known as "Cassius Clay") went to the Olympics in 1960.  A great many white Louisvillans (Louisvillians?) were of the feeling "He's our home-town champ and I am cheering for him."  More importantly, once Ali turned pro, his financial backing came from the Louisville Sponsoring Group, a committee of eleven *white* businessmen.  Without the LSG, Ali's professional career would have been considerably different and perhaps much less successful.

see among others http://www.si.com/vault/1963/03/11/606229/the-eleven-men-behind-cassius-clay  which includes the interesting quote "Speaking of [Ali's] boastful talk, one of the 11 says, "We may find it exasperating, but not when we count the receipts.""

Linguistically, circa 1960 what you call "Black English" was quite common in Louisville, but the white "cornpone and magnolia" accent was relatively rare.

- James A. Landau (resident of Louisville from 1947 to 1965)

PS:  above I used the expression "home-town champ" instead of "home-town boy" which is actually race-neutral (i.e. is frequently applied to whites) but which contains the sometimes-sensitive word "boy".  Is there a better substitute?

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