Roots Picnic Festival-Goers Comment on Muhammad Ali's Legacy


Attendees were amped to see the awesome lineup at the 9th annual Roots Picnic Saturday, but hearts were still heavy considering news broke overnight that the world lost legendary champion boxer and outspoken activist Muhammad Ali at the age of 74.

While photographer Camilo Fuentealba shot Okayafrica's street style story, I asked a few attendees their thoughts on what the G.O.A.T's legacy meant to them.

Here are their responses:

Photos by Camilo Fuentealba for Okayafrica

Bartender, Raasheid Bell, 23, shares, “The same thing that he meant to everybody, really. Muhammad Ali was one of the first black athletes to really show us what it meant to be great, to be unapologetically black, especially in a time where it was, you know, just detrimental to have a positive message about anything revolving around the color of your skin. I think even now even more so than the past decade or two, it’s even more important now to follow that type of example because certain things, certain aspects of that past are kind of repeating. It was a sad thing, but it’s just a reminder to keep your head up and still battle. Um, what did he say? ‘Rumble, young man, rumble.’”

Photos by Camilo Fuentealba for Okayafrica

Briana C. Carter, 17, of Philadelphia, Pa. says, “[Muhammad Ali] really showed me that you can fight for what you’re passionate about. You can be whoever you want to be and you don’t have to worry about what anyone has to say. But you have to remain focused and remain persistent and, you know, just have trust and faith and your passion. I’m an artist so I respect everything.”

Photos by Camilo Fuentealba for Okayafrica

Server, Joel Yates, 31, says, “He was one person who just didn’t hold back his feelings and his thoughts and what he wanted to say, he just said it. And I really appreciate that, it’s really good to have someone like a black guy, a black person, in that time speak their mind—that was great.”

Photos by Camilo Fuentealba for Okayafrica

Juanita Kehler, 40, who works in advisory services, shares, “He hasn’t affected me personally, but it is kinda sad, you know, when anybody loses a family member so from an empathetic point of view, I just feel sad for his family having lost him.”

Photos by Camilo Fuentealba for Okayafrica

“So my last birthday, my dad gave me a huge poster of Muhammad Ali with quote, ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.’ And he’s been super instrumental in my upbringing. He’s like one of the icons—it almost makes me feel like we need more icons to help replace his legacy. But he’s been instrumental in helping to put black people on the highest pedestal possible,” Niles Smith, 26, who works in marketing for Nike, says.

Photos by Camilo Fuentealba for Okayafrica

Vincent Marc, 33, of Philadelphia, Pa. (pictured left) shares, “I don’t know a lot about Muhammad Ali, but I do know he was really big with Civil Rights and all that kind of stuff, so I personally don’t feel any kind of way, but I do know it’s a loss for the community.”

Photos by Camilo Fuentealba for Okayafrica

“I love Muhammad Ali and may Allah rest his soul. May Allah make his grave and expand his place. Once again, may Allah make his grave and expand his place. Muhammad Ali was a warrior,” adds rap artist, MensahWNR, 22. 

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