Muhammad Ali Day being celebrated in Illinois for first time

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The first-ever Muhammad Ali Day is being celebrated in Chicago Monday.

Several state senators sponsored the resolution to make January 17 Muhammad Ali Day. It was passed in June.

As Illinoisans celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Chicago History Museum will also celebrate Ali for the first time in Illinois.

Ali was considered a champion of civil justice. The professional boxer, activist, entertainer, poet and philanthropist, nicknamed "The Greatest" took up residence on the South Side of Chicago from the mid-1960s though the late 1970s.

Having converted to Islam, he claimed conscientious objector status in refusing to serve in the Vietnam War. Ali was banned from boxing and convicted of draft evasion.

Ali made his home in Chicago and became more involved with the Nation of Islam and the Civil Rights movement. He married here, started a family here and staged his comeback here.

Monday afternoon, there will be a virtual and in-person dialogue on Muhammad Ali and Dr. King's models of hope, courage and conviction through extreme challenges.

Reverend Jesse Jackson will deliver the opening remarks and Ali's daughter Maryum is a special guest.

Meanwhile, Monday would have been Ali's 80th birthday. He died in 2016.
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