LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Saturday, June 10 will mark one year since the world stood still, as Muhammad Ali returned to Louisville for the last time.
There were no homicides in Louisville for 8 days after the Champ's passing. Muhammad Ali's father Cassius Clay Sr. belonged to King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church off 15th and Broadway, Ali grew up there as well.
Reverend Charles Elliott can tell you stories for days about the Clay family, but he can also tell you stories of how Muhammad Ali would want better from his city, that is wrapped in a deadly trend of drug abuse and homicides.
Rev Elliott tells us, “What Muhammad Ali stood for in regards of loving and being a man and taking care of your family and whatnot, that sticks with me.”
It's evident Muhammad Ali loved his city, but his heart belongs to West Louisville as Elliott describes an encounter with The Champ some 45 years ago.
“I said, Muhammad, I don't have the money, he says you got the money now so he wrote me a check for two hundred thousand dollars and we fed people every day here at this church with our Feed the People Program for two years out of that contribution.”
The then Cassius Clay and his family were members of King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church.
Ali’s father, Cassius Clay Sr., painted the church's baptismal in 1963, no renovations have been made to this original painting.
What has changed though, is the increase in violence.
“It’s unfair not only to this area of town but it is unfair to the world of those who have made a major contribution to pull us together to have a healthy society and then we are back in this situation of homicides, drugs and what have you,” Elliott stated.
Rev. Elliott says Ali would be not only disappointed in his hometown's violence he'd be advocating for a better West Louisville, which has at least 5,000 abandoned properties and only a handful of grocery stores to serve close to 60,000.
He details, “I was there when Dr. King died but I have never seen a community, a city coming together and showing what we can do together.”
The world witnessed the Derby City stand tall for its Champ, Elliott is hoping Louisville will once again bring back that same sense of peace that filled the air one year ago.
The developers of the Muhammad Ali childhood home museum are hosting the Ali Community Togetherness Walk Saturday, June 10 at 2 p.m. It will start at the West End School and city leaders and residents will walk to the childhood home.