After the JFK assassination, many of us at the time remained shocked to the extent we sought distractions to take our mind off the foul deed. That shock was made worse because we suspected a conspiracy at work, especially after Jack Ruby shot and killed the alleged "lone gunman". Too neat and way too convenient.
Under the header 'American political climate in early 1964', Wikipedia observes:
"Eleven weeks before the Beatles' arrival in the U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The nation was in mourning, in fear, and in disbelief.. The assassination came after a fifteen-year build-up of Cold War tension. The motivation and identity of the assassin would be doubted by many Americans for decades, despite the Warren Commission's issued report in September 1964.[. As the United States tried to restore a sense of normality, teenagers in particular struggled to cope, as their disbelief began to be replaced by a personal reaction to what had happened: in school essays, teenagers wrote that "then it became real", and "I was feeling the whole world is going to collapse on me", and "I never felt so empty in all my life"
In Miami, FL where I lived at the time, I was putting the finishing touches on my high school science fair project 'The Structure of the Universe'. This demanded concentration that took my mind off the assassination. The arrival of the Beatles coming to Miami Beach Convention Hall to perform on Feb. 13, 1964 also helped many of us. . E.g.
The Beatles' performance was arguably (in many young persons' minds) the single greatest balm to get over the immediate pain of losing one of the most beloved Presidents. Certainly at Monsignor Edward Pace High, which revered the first Catholic President.
What may have even been even more fascinating for many of us - apart from the lads from Liverpool- was the arrival of a young, African-American boxer named Cassius Clay - earmarked to fight a former convict named Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964 at the same Miami Beach Convention Hall.
Clay's brash talk, unreal and rare for a black man at the time, was not only the talk of Pace High but Miami in general. Not to put too fine a point on it, most of us wanted young Cassius to beat the holy hell out of Liston who we regarded as a thug - having earned his boxing creds at the Missouri State Penitentiary.
Most entertaining were Clay's (aka Ali's before he changed his name) insults to the "Bear" at the weigh in and even before. But as another Wikipedia article put it:
"Clay's brashness did not endear him to White America, and, in fact, even made Liston a more sympathetic character. In The New Republic, the magazine's editor, Murray Kempton (a future Pulitzer Prize–winner for distinguished commentary), wrote, "Liston used to be a hoodlum; now he is our cop; he was the big Negro we pay to keep sassy Negroes in line."
When young Cassius floored Liston, who the media predicted would maul him, we celebrated. I certainly did while listening to the fight on the radio. Even my dad, not usually a boxing aficionado, got into it and heard the end and final knockout with me. He said: "Glad he beat that bum Liston"
From then on through other fights we became Cassius Clay (and later Muhammad Ali) rooters.
But one story that you won't hear or see much in the midst of all the current "remembrances" and celeb talk spots, concern's Ali's biggest win of all. This occurred on June 28, 1971 after s Supreme Court verdict (heard on appeal) supported his conscientious objector claim to refuse to be drafted in a unanimous 8-0 decision.
The case (Clay vs. United States) stemmed from Clay-Ali's refusal of induction into the U.S. Army. He was immediately stripped of his heavyweight title despite pleading conscientious objector status - - as my maternal grandfather did (during WW I) after arriving from in the U.S. from Croatia nearly 50 years earlier.
Ali, sticking to his principles despite waves of whitey warmonger hatred, was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000 and banned from boxing for five yeas.
Thankfully, Ali appealed the ruling and was vindicated on June 28, 1971 by the 8-0 Supreme Court decision that had the potential to be 5-3. But two justices (Woodward and Stewart) argued strongly that the lower courts had made no solid case by which to deny appeals based on being a conscientious objector.
Thus: "The Supreme Court of the United States found the government had failed to properly specify why Ali's application had been denied, thereby requiring the conviction to be overturned. A unanimous decision (8-0), "the court said the record shows that [Ali's] beliefs are founded on tenets of the Muslim religion as he understands them." (Wikipedia)
In an article from 2012 in the Chicago Law Bulletin, Michael I. Spak, a military law professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, said Ali’s case set a precedent in conscientious objector cases.
And so, in perhaps his greatest victory - a legal one - Ali won justice for himself as well as thousands of other conscientious objectors. This was particularly apropos in response to a fundamentally immoral war - basically launched on a phony pretext by LBJ using the Tonkin Gulf incident.
Sadly, even today the mainstream media doesn't seem able to get its facts straight as Charlie Rose was heard this morning to refer to Ali as a "draft dodger" leading up to one segment on Ali's history. But the Supreme Court decision firmly vindicated Ali's stance as a conscientious objector, which is not the same as a "draft dodger".