Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name




First Advisor

David F. Dorsey

Second Advisor

Norman Harris


Long after a career that was as much marred by criticism as marked by accomplishment, Muhammad Au receives considerable public acclaim for his athletic accomplishments and his humanitarianism. However, no scholarly attention has been given to this man as a literary force who, through the power of his word, impacted the consciousness of this nation and world. This dissertation examines Ali as an artist operating within the context of African and African American oral literary traditions and will explore the impact of his oratory on the sociopolitical consciousness of this country. The analysis of the oral literature of Muhammad Ali, which consists of his lectures, interviews, and poetry, will involve an assessment of those aspects that make it a manifestation of the verbal culture of Africa and African America. Moreover, the study illustrates the degree to which the rhetoric and verse reflects both African-American national consciousness (i.e., black nationalism) and African folkloric tradition. In his creation of himself Ali utilizes traditional African and African American mythoforms like the trickster, the Badman, and the culture hero. In this respect, Muhammad Ali is the only athlete to emerge as an Afrocentric cultural hero. This subject encompasses matter of literature, African American studies, speech communications, and popular culture.

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