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Muhammad Ali's brilliant response to being drafted in 1967 is worth repeating. Over and over.

Muhammad Ali was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War at the top of his career. He refused to go.

Muhammad Ali's brilliant response to being drafted in 1967 is worth repeating. Over and over.


Image via Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons.


"I'm The Greatest!"

Cassius Marcellus Clay told the world he was The Greatest. He was usually referring to the boxing ring, but he didn't hesitate to also embrace pride in his race and his religion, and he was more than willing to antagonize the white establishment when it began to threaten his success — or his beliefs.

Soon after rising to fame, he converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Aside from his boxing achievements, Ali did something that no sports professional has done before or since: He refused to go to war when he was drafted.

Cassius Clay at an event featuring Elijah Muhammad. Image via Library of Congress/Wikimedia Commons.

"My conscience won't let me go shoot my brother or some darker people or some poor, hungry people in the mud for big, powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Poor little black people and babies and children and women. How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail." — Muhammad Ali

In 1967, three years after winning the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston, he refused to be drafted into the U.S. Army due to his religious beliefs and opposition to the war in Vietnam.

Banned from boxing

For that, he interrupted a brilliant career and was banned from boxing. He was even stripped of his heavyweight title and denied a visa to fight overseas. Having no ability to work aside from what he knew best, he began speaking at colleges and universities to pay bills. Sometimes (as you'll see near the end of the clip below), he was accosted at those speaking engagements by angry white students who thought he should go fight in Vietnam.

Muhammad Ali in 1966. Image via Dutch National Archives/Wikimedia Commons.

But he didn't fight in the ring for nearly four years — and those for him were the mid-to-late 20s, the prime for a young boxer — and it's likely the threat of a jail sentence and being banned from the sport he loved even further deepened his resolve to be the greatest. In 1971, his conviction for “draft dodging" was overturned at the U.S. Supreme Court, and he went on to regain the title he had been stripped of for political reasons.

Here's a great video summary of how he looked at being drafted and why he did the unthinkable and challenged the U.S. legal system to throw him in jail for refusing to shoot "poor hungry people."

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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