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Community Cinema offers free screening of ‘The Trials of Muhammad Ali’ in North Little Rock March 18

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN), UALR Public Radio/KUAR FM 89.1 and William F. Laman Library invite the public to a free screening of "The Trials of Muhammad Ali" as part of Community Cinema Tuesday, March 18, at 6:30 p.m. The screening will be held in the library’s auditorium.

"The Trials of Muhammad Ali" explores the extraordinary and complex life of the legendary athlete outside the boxing ring. From joining the controversial Nation of Islam and changing his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, to his refusal to serve in the Vietnam War in the name of protesting racial inequality, to his global humanitarian work, Ali remains an inspiring and controversial figure. Outspoken and passionate in his beliefs, Ali found himself in the crosshairs of conflicts concerning race, religion, and wartime dissent. Directed by Academy Award-nominated director Bill Siegel, "The Trials of Muhammad Ali" examines how one of the most celebrated sports champions of the 20th century risked fame and fortune to follow his faith and conscience.

Focusing on some of the most noteworthy, provocative and resonant aspects of the legendary athlete’s life, the film explores Ali’s lifelong journey of spiritual transformation. From his Louisville roots, through his years in exile, to receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Ali's path was that of poet to pariah to global ambassador for peace.

In 1964, when the 22-year-old Olympic gold medalist won his first heavyweight championship, he shouted, "I shook up the world!" But, his earthshaking had only just begun. Soon he announced he had become a Muslim and a member of the Nation of Islam. Drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, he made his defining expression of resistance: "No, I will not go 10,000 miles to continue the domination of white slave masters over the darker people of the earth."

Archival scenes highlight the forces that supported and opposed him, including his spiritual mentors, Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad, and critics of his stance, such as Jackie Robinson and Joe Louis. Most of the interviewees have never been featured in any Ali film before, yet are central to his life story and the global impact he had. Interviews shot exclusively for the film include his brother, Rahman; his former wife, Khalilah Camacho-Ali; New York Times writer Robert Lipsyte; and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. What emerges is the hidden history of Muhammad Ali.

The screening will be held in the auditorium of William F. Laman Public Library, 2801 Orange Street, North Little Rock. A panel discussion with Dr. Michael R. Twyman, director of the UALR Institute on Race and Ethnicity, and Ojima Robinson, Little Rock native and practicing Muslim, will follow the screening. Additional information is available by calling AETN at 800-662-2386 or visiting aetn.org/communitycinema.

Community Cinema, a free monthly screening series engaging communities through films produced by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), features monthly screenings followed by panel discussions with leading organizations, local communities and special guest speakers. The program is designed to help people learn about and get involved in the social issues raised in the documentaries.

The mission of the William F. Laman Public Library is to maintain and improve the quality of life for the community by providing resources that enhance and contribute to literacy and foster community engagement with information, culture and civic life.

The mission of UALR Public Radio is to deepen insight into the human experience, empower decision-making and enrich the lives of those we serve through quality news and cultural programs. UALR Public Radio operates two radio stations in Little Rock – KUAR FM 89.1, which broadcasts news, jazz and cultural programs including national programming from NPR, and KLRE 90.5, which broadcasts classical music.

The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) is Arkansas’s statewide public television network that enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. AETN delivers local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers. AETN depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. For more information, visit aetn.org, or follow the AETN blog at aetn.org/engage. AETN is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), and KETZ (El Dorado).

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