In this Feb. 8, 1962, file photo, young fighter Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) is seen at City Parks Gym in New York. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74.
In this Feb. 8, 1962, file photo, young fighter Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) is seen at City Parks Gym in New York. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. DAN GROSSI AP
In this Feb. 8, 1962, file photo, young fighter Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) is seen at City Parks Gym in New York. Ali, the magnificent heavyweight champion whose fast fists and irrepressible personality transcended sports and captivated the world, has died according to a statement released by his family Friday, June 3, 2016. He was 74. DAN GROSSI AP

Muhammad Ali may have been the first truly free black man in America

June 04, 2016 2:49 PM

About Leonard Pitts Jr

Leonard Pitts Jr

@LeonardPittsJr1

Leonard Pitts Jr. won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004. He is the author of the novels, Grant Park, Freeman, and Before I Forget. His column runs every Sunday and Wednesday. Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns, was released in 2009.

On Sept. 11, 2001, he wrote a column on the terrorist attacks that received a huge response from readers who deluged him with more than 26,000 e-mails. It was posted on the Internet, chain-letter style. Read the column and others on the topic of September 11.

You can also read Pitts' series, What Works?, a series of columns about programs anywhere in the country that show results in improving the lives of black children.

Leonard also wrote the 2008 series I Am A Man, commemorating the 40th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination.

Email Leonard at lpitts@MiamiHerald.com or visit his website at www.leonardpittsjr.com

The Black List: Suggested Readings in African-American History

I am often asked by readers interested in gaining a better basic understanding of racial issues and/or African-American history if I will compile a reading list for them. These 16 books represent my best effort to do so.