The Slatest

A Moving Tribute to Muhammad Ali by a Kentuckian Who Was Bullied for Her Identity

One of the most moving moments in Friday’s memorial service for Muhammad Ali came near the end of the ceremony when 19-year-old Natasha Mundkur gave an emotional tribute to the departed boxing legend. Her speech touched on one of the major themes of the entire ceremony—the profound impact Ali had on people of every faith, culture, and ethnic background and his lifelong fight against bullies and racism.

“Ali’s cry still shakes these waves today, that we are to find strength in our identities whether we are black, or white, or Asian, or Hispanic, LGBT, disabled, or able bodied, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or Christian, his cry represents those who have not been heard and invalidates the idea that we are to be conformed to one normative standard,” she said in one of the most emotional moments of the ceremony.

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Mundkur, a former member of the Muhammad Ali Center Council of Students, was bullied as the only person of color in her Louisville elementary school as a child and called a terrorist. When she was taught about Ali in class, she found strength in his story and words and went on to work at Ali’s center. “I heard the word Louisville, Kentucky, and I know, I know that word because I was born and raised there. That was the first time I had felt connected to my home, my original home back in Louisville, where I was loved and felt like myself,” she told Louisville CBS affiliate WLKY before the speech.

You can watch the entire tearful and powerful address above.

Read more in Slate about Muhammad Ali.

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