52 years later, the CJ apologizes to a young man named Ali

Muhammad Ali
In 1967.

“We took what in today’s light is an oddly hostile approach on the specific issue of Ali’s name, which did little to help race relations in a turbulent time.”

— The Courier-Journal, in an unsigned editorial this morning, belatedly apologizing for the newspaper’s waiting so long to use Muhammad Ali’s adopted name, after he rejected the one given at birth: Cassius Clay.

The editorial followed a New York Times article Thursday, pointing out this failing on the part of many papers, the Times included. The Louisville paper’s apology is certainly welcome. But was it prompted by the Times story? Or was it already in the works?

Worth noting: In a search this week, the first “Ali” reference Boulevard could find in the CJ’s online database was a page-one story in 1969, five years after he’d chosen the new name. But that’s incorrect; “Ali” appears the year he adopted it — 1964 — although editors didn’t take it seriously until many years later.

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