You cannot have read the newspapers, seen a newscast or been on social media within the last month without being reminded of the passing of two African American icons; Muhammad Ali and Prince.
One was a musical genius who had to struggle to prove his unique talents, and the other, a once in a lifetime athlete who proved his claim was more than an idle boast; “I am the Greatest.”
You can find many who claim to admire these two individual talents …now. I always find it ironic that most of us don’t truly appreciate the talented among us until they are gone.
The passing of those who leave a lasting impression on us is the perfect occasion for hypocrites to tap dance on the coffins of people they didn’t really know, or (let’s be honest) care about. This kind of thing sickens me.
So instead of being guilty of this, I will instead talk about my personal connection to these two brilliant lights.
My dad was a boxer, and he took me to the close circuit televised broadcast of the Muhammad Ali/ Sonny Liston fight. It was amazing. Here was this fresh, brazen young fighter taking on the establishment champ with confidence, vigor and showmanship. In 1964, I didn’t realize all the elements this fight represented, but I did know about some aspects of the “Sweet Science” thanks to my dad. I will never forget it.
And both of my daughters LOVED the music of Prince. It was the one elements of their sibling hood that they had in common. I enjoyed his music, but they truly surrounded themselves with the “Prince Experience.” One tattooed his symbol on her ankle, and the other insisted I take her to see the movie, “Purple Rain.” To me, that represents true admiration and appreciation.
Like Reverend Martin Luther King and Malcolm X before them, those who ignored their work and triumphs have stepped forward to act as if they believe their contributions to the world was important to them personally. Don’t be fooled.
Whether or not media pundits truly recognized their talents is not important. What is important is to make sure you do. Look up their work, study their lives and pass the information on to others, particularly our young people. Give these great men the true tribute they are due. It is the only correct action to take.
Professor William H. Foster III is a long-time fan of both comic books and science fiction. He is the creator of a traveling educational exhibit on “The Changing Image of Blacks in Comics.” He has written two books on this topic: “Looking for a Face like Mine” (2005) and “Dreaming of a Face like Ours” (2010). To purchase copies go to www.Amazon.com. To find out more about his research please visit his website, www.Finallyinfullcolor.com.