I had the opportunity to photograph an event at SDSU today in which Muhammad Ali’s wife, Lonnie Ali was the keynote speaker.
The legacy of Muhammad Ali, and the one that his widow now preaches, is community service. The famous quote of his is: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” Lonnie Ali said she and the family heard this every day. Every day…every single day! But she said she always took it to heart, as that was the way she was raised. Where they grew up, you knew your neighbor, and you lent a hand.
She commented on how service was now down, and criticized social media to an extent. She asked “how many of you know your neighbors”? I must admit, I know a few, but not all.
She struck me as a no-nonsense woman. I liked that. She was to the point and not pretentious. She believed in her mission. She stressed that service didn’t need to be too complex. For students, it could be as simple as helping out a fellow student in math tutoring.
She and Muhammad started a community service organization before he died called Ali75. It calls for everyone to devote 75 hours of community service in honor of Muhammad’s 75th birthday in January. Again, it can be simple things. You don’t have to join the Peace Corps to do this, but maybe just help out a neighbor in need.
I’m not a sports fan. But I like what Ali started in spreading service to others, and I like that his widow is continuing this legacy. She struck me as a classy human with little pretense.