Muhammad Ali’s eldest daughter, Maryum “May May” Ali, shed her light on Shippensburg University students Thursday afternoon during a student session before her lecture that evening.
When students were ushered into the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Theater, Ali greeted everyone with her huge smile and warm personality, which gave off a personal feel for the student information session.
She spoke highly of her father and expressed how much he instilled in her and her siblings at a young age. Ali referred to the documentary, “Ali,” which shows how Muhammed Ali was more than just the bold boxer who shouted to the world that he was the greatest, but how much of a respectful and empathetic man he was.
“This documentary shows, for once, him as a father,” Ali said.
Ali gave an example of how her father would cherish the moments by recording their voices on a tape recorder. Muhammed would ask his children profound questions such as “What’s your purpose Maryum?”
Ali explained that she believed her father already knew what she and her siblings were capable of, which is why he would ask her such deep questions that the average 5-year-old would not be asked.
Ali said her purpose was to help people. Before she figured out her personal way of helping people, she was a comedian for 12 years, sharing the stage with famous comedians such as Jim Carey, Martin Lawrence and Chris Rock.
She used her other talents to become a rapper in the early 1990s, which was her personal way to connect with youth.
She later realized the music industry did not reflect her way of living when it came to respecting the image of a black female rapper. Between her rotating careers and fulfilling her passion as a social worker, she realized she had to decide what was best for her.
Ali decided to become a full-time social worker, particularly a gang prevention social worker in Los Angeles, California.
Ali chose to pass on her father’s legacy of practicing guidance, empathy and love to the marginalized communities of the inner city youth since they are parts of the cities that are often overlooked.
Due to the limited amount of resources in the inner city, Ali made herself a resource.
“In order to get folks engaged and part of the solution or working toward themselves or humanity, we have to acknowledge the societal factors we have now that we didn’t have back then,” Ali said.
Like her father, Muhammed, who became an agent of change for his community, Ali followed in his footsteps in becoming an agent of change for youth.
“There’s so many responsibilities we have and it’s not only the macro — it’s the micro stuff,” Ali said.