June 2016

Muhammad Ali – The Greatest of All Time taught us that we too can be great.

The Greatest of All Time taught us that we too can be great. Muhammad AliMuhammad Ali – The Greatest of All Time taught us that we too can be great.

As a young girl growing up in Newark, New Jersey, I had a loving and caring childhood that came equipped with bumps and bruises which most of us are afforded in life. Those character building lessons that we never get when school is in session. Like any other young adolescent, I wasn’t immune to that which was around me…people who magnified their presence, even the books I read I felt that there was kinship in anybody within that showed grit, integrity and an unabashed way of expressionism. I watched him from afar but close enough to know that this man was special. I remember seeing pictures of Muhammad Ali and my Dad and always thought they could be brothers. They were distant friends who had a wonderful respect for one another.

In my mind he was bigger than life, loud but not too vociferous where he was annoying. He had quite a bit to say and he said it with verve and a spirit unmatched by any man of color during an era where racism defined attitudes that didn’t look like him. What man was allowed to defy authoritative right, stare down the government, and back up claims of being The Greatest? Muhammad Ali was that man…and what a man he was! He influenced me to no end. Empowering, Enlightening, Engaging and Inspirational—all of which were accolades I’ve heard describing myself, but Mr. Ali exemplified all of that and more. If someone asked me what influence he had over me based on society, religion and politics it probably would take a millennium to answer fully…but push come to shove would find me gushing with pride as I would give my opinion as such.

On Religion—Any man having courage to denounce the spiritual mores that raised him for that of something different defines courage. He turned his back on Christianity and embraced the Nation of Islam. How many of us would dare to defy parental and familial order to change his (slave) name to that of a new way of expression? Not only did I admire that, it gave me a practical way of looking at spirituality from a different lens.

On Political Views—Always a critic of American racism, who refused military induction, who wasn’t afraid to align himself with anything that would uphold and uplift his people…well, that made an impression on me in the sense that he had an uncanny ability to take ideas and ideals and mold them, shape them into linguistic fortitude and be prolific in the process.

On Society—in my mind, Ali became a magnetic symbol of dignity and self-determination to several generations of African-Americans, a champion worthy of the title The Mouth that Roared!  Consider this: He introduced Black Power to white America; fueled the 1960s  Anti-War Movement; and gave pop culture an iconic face by being embraced as a rap star—long before the genre became fashionable. Muhammad Ali was rapping and rhyming and it became one of his legacies.

On Athleticism – Agile and full of life and vigor, he taught us that a sharp mind can never be accepting of a dull body. Through his dedication and spirit of a champion, we saw a man reach his physical supremacy. He backed up all of his words with action and never failed or lacked in vitality.

On Fatherhood – We saw a black man, publicly and unapologetically raising his children. Over the course of my lifetime, I have been a witness to the need to have more images of black fatherhood as it is very much alive and well and in existence. We know that all black man are not rapists, convicts, dead beat dads and only known for their sexual prowess – some type of imaginary boogeyman lurking in the shadows to kill, steal and destroy. We know that our black men are kings who are the rocks to many of our families. We also know that by portraying this fact doesn’t fit certain stereotypes and the stories that have been told to us and sold to us. It is a major reason I have published two anthologies in The Soul of a Man series to illustrate the flip side to what we see, hear and are fed in an attempt for us as a society to digest the wrong thing. Muhammad Ali’s fatherhood on display and his care for his children aided in dispelling many of the myths and rumors about black men. His presence and his life were so important for so many reasons. It’s levels to this.

Yes, we lost The Greatest, but his greatest tribute will be that of a man that was influential and was influenced by his own charisma, style and substance. My mantra and desire for all of you men and women is to carve your own niche, be as assertive as you can, but allow your life to define the purpose of your imagery. REAL LIFE, REAL FAITH can be attained if you stay focused on your mission and do so with courage by having the fortitude to forge new roads.

Be Great.

Be Empowered.

Be Inspired.

Be Unlimited.


Always and in All Ways,

I remain,

Elissa Gabrielle



Elissa Gabrielle is the USA Today recommended author of Eye of the Beholder and President & CEO, Peace In The Storm Publishing, LLC, Imprints: After the Storm Publishing, Imani Faith Publishing, THE IMPRINT, Jessica A. Robinson Presents



PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER, Real Life Real Faith Media

Magazines: Real Life Real Faith, Journey to Wellness, Mommy Matters, Men of Faith, Women Walking by Faith, Wisdom for Everyday Life

Producer: “Real Life Real Faith with Cheryl Lacey Donovan”





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