The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky’s major newspaper, apologized Sunday (June 12) for repeatedly using hometown hero Muhammad Ali’s former name, “Cassius Clay,” through the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“It is time for the Courier-Journal to acknowledge the role it played by not accepting the name Muhammad Ali for several years after the 22-year-old Cassius Clay took on the moniker when he adopted the Muslim religion in 1964,” read a piece from the publication’s editorial board.
The Courier-Journal cited several examples of articles dismissively referring to Ali’s chosen name, which became synonymous with both his boxing accomplishments and social justice activism. One 1970 story referred to him as “Cassius Clay (or Muhammad Ali, if you will).” They also referenced both Sports Illustrated and The New York Times’ enduring use of “Cassius Clay” until, respectively, 1967 and 1970—the same year the Courier-Journal began regularly using “Muhammad Ali”.
“We won’t even try to speculate what the motives of the editors in that era were,” read the apology. ”The CJ was certainly an early champion of civil rights and desegregation. Yet we took what in today’s light is an oddly hostile approach on the specific issue of Ali’s name, which did little to help race relations in a turbulent time.”
Read the full apology here.