Virtual Screening, Conversation to Address Intersection of Sports, Politics by Examining Life of Muhammad Ali

Event part of week-long observance of the National Day of Racial Healing

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), Arkansas PBS and the Arkansas Peace and Justice Memorial will host the free, virtual conversation “Ali in Arkansas: Athlete to Leader” Thursday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. to explore how issues that made headlines during Ali’s lifetime are still relevant today. Anyone may RSVP for the event at, and 50 attendees will be chosen to receive the book “Ali: A Life” and an Ali T-shirt.

This intergenerational conversation will feature clips from the PBS documentary “Muhammad Ali,” a film by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, followed by a live panel discussion. The discussion will focus on the intersection of sports and politics, including such topics as racial justice; civic engagement and youth involvement in social movements; athletes and philanthropy; and storytelling as a unifying force that inspires deep reflection and connection.

Panelists for the event will include:

  • Walter Beach III, former NFL player for the Cleveland Browns from 1962 through 1966, including the Browns’ 1964 NFL Championship. Beach was also part of a group of black athletes who publicly supported Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be inducted into the United States Army as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. (Wikipedia ) Termed the Cleveland Summit, they demonstrated the power that black athletes possess when united against a specific cause. Beach, now nearly 89, has seen the evolution of athletic protest in the 50-plus years since the summit. (The Undefeated)
  • Jonathan Eig, author of “Ali: A Life.” Hailed by Ken Burns as one of America’s master storytellers, Eig sheds important new light on Ali’s politics, religion, personal life and neurological condition through unprecedented access to all the key people in Ali’s life, more than 500 interviews, and thousands of pages of previously unreleased FBI and Justice Department files and audiotaped interviews from the 1960s. “Ali: A Life” is a story about America, about race, about a brutal sport, and about a courageous man who shook up the world.
  • Kymara Seals, Alumni Board president, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. Seals, a 1994 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, serves as president of the UAPB/AM&N National Alumni Association Board of Directors. She is the policy director of the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, a nonprofit that addresses social and economic justice issues. In response to the national outcry against police brutality, she helped create a group called Pine Bluff Social Justice Activists, which is addressing issues of injustice and examining what equity should look like in the city. She is currently leading an effort on public safety measures and is a member of the gang reduction task force G.R.I.P. that addresses crime intervention and prevention.
  • Leon Jones III, UAPB Student Government Association president. Jones is a political science major and mass communications minor who plans to practice solutions journalism. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Upon graduation, Jones will pursue a graduate degree in journalism.
  • Chris Robinson, vice chancellor/athletics director, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. One of the all-time greats in Golden Lion football history, Robinson was named UAPB’s director of athletics in June 2021 after serving as the executive senior associate athletic director. Previously, he spent eight years in the university’s Office of Recruitment. A 2014 UAPB Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Robinson earned his bachelor’s degree in management from UAPB and a master’s degree in business administration from MidAmerica Nazarene University.

Event moderators Clarice and Kwami Abdul-Bey, co-conveners of the Arkansas Peace & Justice Memorial Movement and 2021 Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice – Arkansas Peace Activists of the Year recipients. Clarice and Kwami are the co-directors of the Washitaw Foothills Youth Media Arts & Literacy Collective and regularly lend their voices to the Arkansas PBS Engage Blog.

“Ali in Arkansas: Athlete to Leader” is part of the week- long programming that is being offered in observance of the National Day of Racial Healing in the state of Arkansas, leading up to the 2022 Social Justice & Racial Equity Challenge Feb. 1-28.

“Muhammad Ali” will air on Arkansas PBS on Fridays, Jan. 28-Feb. 18, at 8 p.m. The film follows the life of one of the most consequential men of the 20th century, a three-time heavyweight boxing champion who captivated millions of fans with his combination of speed, agility and power in the ring, and his charm, wit and outspokenness outside of it. At the height of his fame, Ali challenged Americans’ racial prejudices, religious biases, and notions about what roles celebrities and athletes play in our society, and inspired people all over the world with his message of pride and self-affirmation.

This event was made possible in part with grant funds from WETA.

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