Last night, Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced that a special tribute in lights would be projected to honor late boxing and sports legend Muhammad Ali. On a Harlem corner, images and sayings associated with Ali were shown, like an illustrations of a butterfly, a bee and Ali standing over a defeated Sonny Liston.
The projection started around 8:20 p.m. and ended at midnight.
Mayor de Blasio said yesterday, "Muhammad Ali was a champion, activist and the self-proclaimed Greatest. Throughout his life he lived up to that title again and again. Tonight, NYC comes together in the heart of Harlem to pay tribute to the man who never backed down from a fight in or outside the ring."
And McCray explained, "Growing up I saw few Black people talking back to 'the man.' Muhammad Ali fearlessly fought injustice, and it cost him. He was a champion in and out of the ring. As Robert Kindred said, 'Rainbows are born of thunderstorms, and Muhammad Ali is both.' May the champion's light continue to guide us toward justice."
The press released noted that the projection was at "West 125th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem - the home of Ali’s cornerman Drew “Bundini” Brown, known for his famous limerick, 'Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.'"
An Ali family spokesman said that the 74-year-old died of septic shock; he had been admitted to an Arizona hospital for respiratory issues days earlier. NBC News reports, "The details came as Ali's family revealed plans for a Friday funeral in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, a daylong affair that will include a procession through the streets where the 74-year-old world champion grew up and learned to box. His body is expected to be returned to the city within two days. The service will include eulogies from former President Bill Clinton, journalist Bryant Gumbel and comedian Billy Crystal. He'll be buried in a local cemetery with only family watching."
The Reverend Al Sharpton honored Ali yesterday by pointing out that Ali was more than his boxing skills, "He used those skills to promote peace, love and racial interaction."