We're all probably so accustomed to its promiscuous overuse these days that we might be numbed to the word "hero" and the depth of its real meaning. We're used to guitar heroes, comic book superheroes, heroic surfers, chefs and so on, but what a boxer from Kentucky did in the 1960s was genuinely heroic. When Cassius Clay legally changed his name to Muhammad Ali he not only embraced a controversial, unpopular religion (Islam), he also publicly opposed the Vietnam War and refused to serve in it. Consequently he was banned from boxing for three years and narrowly escaped a five-year prison term. Ali sacrificed his career -- and nearly his liberty -- in order to uphold his moral convictions; such is the stuff of the bona fide, real-world hero. The documentary film The Trials of Muhammad Ali examines this tumultuous period in the great American's life, and it screens at 7 p.m. tonight in the Lee Auditorium at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org). Admission is free.
Wed., Feb. 5, 2014