I just have to say this

Muhammad Ali’s door and table were always open.

I learned that recently while attending Global Fellowships, which is part of the I Am Ali Festival at the Muhammad Ali Center. Global Fellowships is a weekly potluck dinner series hosted by none other than Ambassador Attallah Shabazz, an author, philanthropist, daughter of Malcolm X and beloved friend of Ali himself. Each Monday, anyone and everyone is welcomed to gather at the pavilion outside the Ali Center at 6 p.m., bring a dish and break bread with new friends from all walks of life. Shabazz said that she hopes that during the I Am Ali Fest she can honor Ali’s generosity.

Typically, I write about all things having to do with bartending and drinking. But this week I was moved to write about Global Fellowships. So pull up a drink, and read on.

Global Fellowships also serves as what seems like an “activism workshop,” where Ambassador Shabazz has each table draw a question out of a jar to prompt discussion. For example, my table’s question was: “What can we do to eradicate violence, crime and poverty from our city?” That’s a deep question, but it takes on new weight when posed at a table of people from various religious backgrounds, some locals, some refugees, some living in impoverished communities and some folks of privilege. Breaking bread, listening to one another, and cultivating ideas in honor of our very own hometown hero… sounds like a stellar project, no?

Mayor Greg Fischer got the memo, as did about 20 other folks, but as I looked at the empty seats, I couldn’t help but feel a sullen disappointment in my fellow Louisvillians. Many people should be jumping at the chance to dine with Ambassador Shabazz. How many people claim to worship Ali and all that he stood for? “Where are y’all?” I thought to myself. I mentioned the I Am Ali Festival to a few friends, and they hadn’t even heard of it. Perhaps it’s a publicity issue. Perhaps it’s lack of support from city officials and prominent activists. Perhaps it’s the sheer thought of having dinner at a table of strangers. Whatever the reason may be, I’ve decided to use this platform to tell you about it (you have two more Mondays to take part in Global Fellowships), and a few other events this summer benefiting worthy organizations. We’re all busy folks. It’s important to me to prioritize and use my social schedule for something good.

In addition to the I Am Ali Festival, next month is replete with stellar fun and philanthropic events. To kick off the Lady Parts Justice League’s time in Louisville, also known as the “Vagical Mystery Tour,” it is hosting a karaoke party at the Highland Tap Room Grill on Friday, July 21. Benefiting Kentucky Health Justice Network, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, this karaoke party will include light bites and refreshments, so let’s get buzzed and sing Beyoncé for lady parts! Vagical!

Another event to place on the calendar that’s sure to be fun for a cause is the Wet & Wild Pool Party at American Turners benefiting the Louisville Pride Foundation (you know, the folks who throw that fabulous Pride bash on Bardstown Road in September). On Saturday, July 15, DJ Brios will be spinning for Speedos at Turners from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and, for just $10, we can all take a dip and have drinks in the name of equality.

Lastly and completely shamelessly, I must mention the Saving Sunny Trivia Night, benefitting the local animal-welfare and community-outreach program, Saving Sunny, Inc. Full disclosure: I am the cofounder of Saving Sunny, so this is a totally biased plug. But I know a good party, and this will be a superb bash to help cute, homeless animals and pet owners who need a helping hand from time to time. Trivia Night will take place at the Boys & Girls Haven on July 22, and you can join in the fun for $30 per person or $200 per team (of eight). Trivia. Booze. Dogs. Hilarity will ensue. Come hang?

I know, I know — Louisville is a city where there are endless events and soirees happening. It’s hard to pick and choose where we’ll devote our beloved evening. But why not pencil in a few of these exciting, philanthropic events that’ll leave your thirst quenched and your heart full? •