LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As the country grapples with the weight of racial inequality and fights for justice for Breonna Taylor, one man who was ahead of his time is Louisville born and raised boxing champ, Muhammad Ali. A young leader, also from Louisville who is Ali's cousin is continuing that legacy.
19-year-old Sean Ali Waddell said a city and a world that loves Ali so much should honor him by practicing what he preached.
"Louisville if you want to be a city of compassion you must first be a city of justice," Waddell said
Waddell by blood is Ali’s cousin, but his grandfather was like a little brother to Ali so the 19-year-old prefers to call the boxing champ his uncle.
Waddell shared a passionate speech from the State Capitol Thursday during Breonna Taylor's 'March on Frankfort'. He aimed strong messages at elected officials.
"I met with Mitch with some other folks and I saw in his office he had some Ali gloves signed," Waddell said during his speech in Frankfort Thursday. "People that don't stand up for us love to treat us like items love to put us in cases up on the wall – let me tell you something this name Ali is a name that I earned; this a name that my family fought for; that's my crown and I'm going to tell you what he would say if he was here –'take my damn name off the wall if you not going to stand for my people!'"
The Howard University sophomore has been vocal at recent demonstrations demanding justice for Breonna Taylor and her family.
"I have to do this like it's in me it's in my heart," he said. "I love this community."
Waddell points at his family's history of fighting for civil rights as being why he is passionate.
"People in my circle and in my family have always taught me that I'm part of a bigger picture," he said. "It's not just about me, it's about community and doing what's right for your community."
Muhammad Ali carried that purpose in and out of the ring. The boxing champ was just three years older than Waddell when he stood up against fighting in the Vietnam War for a country that did not protect people that looked like him.
"Instead of looking at history like it's linear – it's revolving," Waddell said. "Like we're going around this thing and we've been going around it but I think we've ignored a lot of the issues for a long time. Some people are like why are these things popping up? They're not popping up, our attention is tuning in to those things."
Waddell believes the global pandemic is part of the reason why more people are paying attention.
"You don't have basketball to watch, you don't have concerts to go to and those folks that are entertainers and actors don't have to perform those roles right now so they can use their time for things we need to address," he said.
During Waddell's speech at the State Capitol Thursday, he shared his hope of the Kentucky Attorney General.
"Daniel Cameron let me tell you something brother don't you be on the wrong side of history; don't you stay on the wrong side of history," he said during the speech.
Waddell said the message came from love and his passion.
"It's been over 100 days since the death of Breonna Taylor and all we want is right action," he said. "Any time an African American gets in a position of influence it means something to the community and I just think it'll be so sad for the first African American attorney general in a case where the world is looking at the state of Black America, Louisville, and Kentucky to not pull through in the way that it's proper."
Along with his activism, Waddell has a passion for arts and hopes to create work that will help tell the stories and reflect the current events.
Friday, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron issued this statement to WHAS11 News about the Breonna Taylor case:
“We respect the constitutional right of citizens to have their voices heard by gathering in Frankfort. Our offices continues to move forward with an independent and thorough investigation into the death of Ms. Breonna Taylor.”