Mayor announces City of Ali to air on KET, new school curriculum created to honor The Greatest

January 14, 2022

In celebration of Muhammad Ali’s upcoming 80th birthday, Mayor Greg Fischer today announced several ways to honor The Greatest, including Kentucky Educational Television’s (KET) airing the City of Ali documentary and a new middle and high school curriculum created to teach students about the impact Muhammad Ali had on his hometown and the world.

“Just as Muhammad wanted to be a champion boxer and a great humanitarian, City of Ali aspires to move audiences in the commercial documentary world and to inspire young people in classrooms in the U.S. and beyond,” said Mayor Fischer. “Muhammad loved children, and respected the many teachers, coaches and mentors who guided and supported him from his earliest days at the Virginia Avenue School and Central High School in Louisville.”

City of Ali is a documentary that examines the impact of Muhammad Ali’s amazing life, looking at his journey from the neighborhoods of Louisville to all the corners of the globe and ultimately back again, when he came home for his final rest, and brought the rest of the world with him.  

Feedback from early screenings of City of Ali made it clear that the film connects with young people, particularly teens, as well as with educators.

“As filmmakers, our goal is to work with teachers to use this film to introduce a new generation to The Champ’s life and legacy, help them understand why he mattered so much, particularly to their parents and grandparents, and why his time growing up in Louisville mattered,” said City of Ali producer Jonathan McHugh and director Graham Shelby. “There are lessons in these moments that will resonate across generations.”

Originally released in June 2021, the 81-minute City of Ali documentary includes the voices of people who knew Muhammad when he was young, alongside the voices of young people today, people who never saw him fight, and who had no personal connection to him, but who’ve found inspiration in his story and his example. This film details the impact that Muhammad Ali had on both his hometown and the world, and helps viewers to see how they can extend his legacy into their own lives.

“One reason Muhammad Ali matters is because he fought for the righteous cause of bringing people together and convincing us all to respect our common humanity,” said the Mayor. “That work is as important, and as urgently needed, as ever. Our hope is that by making City of Ali and this specially-designed curriculum available to teachers and students, we can help further that work, one classroom at a time.”

As part of a partnership with the Muhammad Ali Center, Louisville Metro Government, and the creators of City of Ali, Anti-Racist Specialists Aven Cook and Rachel Klein have created a comprehensive 86-page curriculum guide that is custom-made for the middle and high school students of Louisville and throughout Kentucky “Honoring The Greatest Through ‘City of Ali’ - A Comprehensive Curriculum Guide for Middle and High School Exploration” includes lesson plans with writing and discussion prompts as well as learning targets geared toward specific Kentucky Academic Standards.

“A curriculum framework about The Greatest is only fitting. He embodied racial equity and his legacy is a lesson we can all learn from,” said Dr. John Marshall, JCPS Chief Equity Officer.

The documentary’s classroom lessons can be taught at any point during the school year but are particularly relevant in the days surrounding Muhammad Ali’s 80th birthday (Jan. 17th), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Jan. 17th), and Black History Month in February.

The Mayor thanked local community leaders who helped make the film and curriculum possible, including Brown-Forman, the James Graham Brown Foundation, the Muhammad Ali Center and Louisville Tourism. “Muhammad only had one hometown, and we are thankful to our incredible community partners who take great pride in that connection,” he said.

“We are thrilled to support City of Ali, a documentary that captures the tremendous legacy Muhammad Ali had in Louisville and across the world. The film reminds us of the power of community and what can be accomplished when we come together,” Mason B. Rummel, President and CEO, James Graham Brown Foundation.

"The week following Muhammad’s passing was an inimitable experience that the Louisville community collectively shared but still cannot completely describe. Having a film that illustrates why that week was so powerful is of great importance locally and globally,” said Jeanie Kahnke, Senior Director of Public Relations & External Affairs at the Muhammad Ali Center. “Of even greater significance is having City of Ali curriculum available to younger generations that will provide history and context to Muhammad’s Ali’s life, extend his legacy through classroom learning, and transport greatness into their own homes and communities.”

“Louisville is proud to be able to show the world how important our native son was - both through celebrating his life achievements and the impact felt globally from his death as we strive to carry his legacy forward. Through engaging visitor experiences at the Muhammad Ai Center, the Footsteps of Greatness self-guided tour and the annual Ali Festival, Louisville continues to bring people together year after year to preserve his dynamic energy, passionate teachings, and core principles,” said Cleo Battle, President and CEO, Louisville Tourism.

In celebration of Muhammad Ali’s upcoming 80th birthday, KET will air City of Ali on Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 20 at 9 p.m.

“KET is pleased to broadcast City of Ali to viewers across the Commonwealth and share in remembering and celebrating the legacy of one of Kentucky’s most famous sons,” said Shae Hopkins, Executive Director and CEO, Kentucky Educational Television.

The City of Ali curriculum will be housed here and is available to educators free of charge. 

Please head here to learn where City of Ali can be streamed: 

Watch the trailer of City of Ali here:

Take part in celebrating The Champ’s birthday on social media by using the hashtag #Ali80.

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