LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS) – It was a night of stars and change-makers at the fifth-annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards, a celebration of the legendary Louisville boxer’s spirit and courage to honor those using their platform to create positive change.
For Susan Bro, it was an evening of conflicting emotions. Her daughter, Heather Heyer, was named one of the recipients of this year’s Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award, but she was unable to accept it in person. Heyer was killed in Charlottesville early August while protesting during a white nationalist rally. For Bro, it is a humbling thought to think her daughter’s name is now immortalized, spoken in the same breath as that of Ali.
"I certainly hope that he and Heather have met by now and have had some great conversations because I know had she known of his works, she would have been a big supporter," she said.
The Ali Award recipients were chosen from around the world, honored for making a difference and carrying out Ali’s humanitarian spirit.
"We all have to be more courageous in supporting each other around human rights, around social justice, around education and access to education," actor and award recipient Hill Harper said.
"The spirit of Muhammad Ali is the spirit of speaking up for injustice, never backing down,” actress and award recipient Patricia Arquette said. “He used his platform to the highest degree to bring as much change as possible."
"My dad is here in spirit today,” Jamilaa Ali-Joyce, Ali’s daughter and one of the presenters, said. “He would love to have us here celebrating his legacy and that legacy will go on."
For Heyer’s mother, the night is bittersweet, but she’s proud to see her daughter’s life continue to make an impact.
"Pay attention to what's going on around you. Pay attention to what's happening around the world,” she said. “Don't look the other way. Step up and be accountable. The outrage is not anger in a way that's violent. The outrage is a positive action. It's a call to action and that's what I want her legacy to be."