As the centerpiece of the nationwide celebration of the U.S. Constitution’s 225th anniversary, the National Constitution Center’s 2012 Liberty Medal ceremony will recognize Muhammad Ali as a champion of freedom. Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter joined National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner at a special announcement this afternoon, during which Liberty Medal sponsors and partners praised Muhammad Ali as a living embodiment of the Constitution who exemplifies everything the award was established to honor:individuals of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe.
Ali will receive the medal in a public ceremony on Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall in Historic Philadelphia. Action News Anchorman Jim Gardner will host the live broadcast of the Liberty Medal ceremony on WPVI-TV/6abc. The event also will be streamed live on www.6abc.com.
Ali has long served as an icon of constitutional ideals and the realization of the American dream – all the while challenging and expanding the very definition of “We the People.” The Olympic gold medalist and boxing legend has been an outspoken fighter for religious and civil rights; a conscientious objector who took his battle to the Supreme Court and won; an ambassador for peace and justice worldwide; and a tireless humanitarian and philanthropist. Even as he celebrated his 70th birthday this year, Ali has continued to break new ground as an advocate for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease, a disease he has battled since 1982.
Given his history of activism for the cause of freedom, Ali was selected in 1987 by the California Bicentennial Foundation for the U.S. Constitution to personify the vitality of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He was featured in the Tournament of Roses parade, launching the U.S. Constitution’s 200th anniversary commemoration.
“It is very fitting that Muhammad Ali, a representative for the bicentennial of the Constitution, be awarded the prestigious Liberty Medal in 2012, as the nation celebrates the 225th anniversary of our founding document,” said President Bill Clinton, Chair of the National Constitution Center. “Ali embodies the spirit of the Liberty Medal by embracing the ideals of the Constitution – freedom, self-governance, equality, and empowerment – and helping to spread them across the globe.”
The Liberty Medal ceremony will mark Ali’s return to the National Constitution Center. At a special Flag Day ceremony on June 14, 2003 – just before the Center’s official opening – he was the first to raise the American flag that hangs in the Grand Hall Overlook and had previously flown over every state and territory capitol.
“Muhammad Ali symbolizes all that makes America great, while pushing us as a people and as a nation to be better,’” said National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner. “Each big fight of his life has inspired a new chapter of civic action. We look forward to welcoming him back to the Center, particularly during this momentous 225th anniversary year.”