44 years ago Muhammad Ali, the fighter was convicted of draft evasion.  That was 1967 and pretty much at the tipping point when the body politic was getting the message that 300 were being killed there week in and out and it was costing us, as a nation, more than just money.  If you were a student in college it was a bit of  safe haven but if you were out of school for whatever reason, you were fodder for the draft - pure and simple.  Careers were chosen, life paths picked, roads not taken because of the war and the draft.

Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay - no coincidence as a folk hero of sorts in Kentucky was one Cassius Marcellus Clay the abolitionist.  In between was a father, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. and Muhammad Ali before he changed his name and converted to the Muslim faith.

Name changes are big things particularly looking at this family.  Cassius Clay, (the original), lived just about the entire 19th century and like Muhammad, was from Kentucky. He was an abolitionist in a state that didn't cotton to it.  A friend of sorts of Lincoln, Minister to Russia, all kinds of things but always ardent on the matter of slavery and basic freedoms.  A black man being named for a white guy was a statement of principle and honor and NOT passing into a white world but recognition of a legitimate voice doing and saying the right things.

When Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. went over to Muhammad Ali as a religious statement of belief there were a lot of folks who accused him of doing it to avoid the draft - Muhammad Ali wasn't in college and didn't have the magic 2-S deferment but was one of those without such an "out" and was drafted - heavyweight champion of the world or not. He, like is namesake, was an "agitator" - one who simple did what he felt was right.  Muhammad certainly ticked off a lot of people and there isn't much question that the white world was kinda gunning for him.  He gave them a clear shot and they took it. It didn't matter or help that Cassius had, a few years before, become Cassius X, a member of the National of Islam - more widely known as the Black Muslims.

I saw young Cassius on TV when he was about 14 years old - appearing on a kids TV show in Cincinnati - and he was on with his dad, Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr., and I wonder now, a day after father's day, what Cassius Sr. thought.  He was a namesake bridge between one of the more interesting and principled figures of America's 19th century and he raised a kid who had an extraordinary talent and rarity of life somewhat the 20th century black equal of  the 19th century political dynamo.

I guess passing on a name and holding to it isn't all that major in the grand scheme of how life turns out.