Monday marks not only Martin Luther King Day but in Illinois, it will also recognize the first Muhammad Ali Day.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a resolution in August adding Jan. 17, Ali’s birthday, to the list of commemorative school holidays in the state.
To celebrate, the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition, which advocated for the holiday, is holding a virtual event honoring the boxing legend.
The event titled “Deliberate Dialogue“ will feature several high-profile speakers including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Ali’s daughter Maryum Ali.
“When I think about what’s going on in the country right now, what comes to mind the most are conversations that we would have about why he took the stands that he took, why he demanded his human and constitutional rights to choose the religion of his choice. Why he confronted various forms of discrimination, oppression and violence against African Americans and other non-ruling people of color, and why he so publicly and proudly had self-love, showed self-love and pride as an African American and a Muslim,” said Maryum Ali.
Muhammad Ali died in 2016 from Parkinson’s disease. He would have turned 80 this year.