Establishments like The Bookstore, when at their best, are not exclusively or perhaps even primarily in the business of providing people with printed texts. They are places in which proprietors like Tannenbaum foster community in the context of a shared love of the written word. When the need to physically isolate undermines the ability of such places to foster this community, they are at risk of becoming less essential to their patrons.
By holding up the life of Muhammad Ali, Ken Burns seems to be asking us pressing questions: can we maintain our principles and move from outspoken and oppositional to loving and virtuous? Will we use our beauty and gifts not to belittle others but to better them?