Arthur Ashe - African American Trailblazers

Uploaded by LibraryofVa on 05.03.2009

Why is it that for a man to hit a ball over the net,
that man's skin color must be white?
It doesn't make sense,
but that's the way it was on the tennis courts of Virginia in the
1950s and early 60s.
Arthur Ashe didn't understand the question and he refused to abide
by the answer.
So time after time, he smacked that ball over the net,
forcing whoever was on the other side to scramble to get it.
Sometimes he used power;
sometimes he used a light touch;
sometimes he used the right spin.
Hit after hit after hit-- he changed the rules.
He made us realize that it didn't matter who was on the other side of the net.
If a man can hit the ball, the
man should be allowed to hit the ball.
Australia, London, New York City.
Arthur Ashe stopped becoming a black tennis player,
and instead
he became a champion.
Today's media
has made epic heroes of our athletes.
The athlete who plays the game the way it should,
inspires good sportsmanship, and uses his notoriety to enrich others
doesn't always get the media attention he or she deserves.
Arthur Robert Ashe
beat back many foes before winning the most prestigious tennis tournament in
the world--Wimbledon.
Long before the great moment in tennis history,
Arthur Ashe plied his trade in the heat of segregation.
so often throughout his youth
Ashe's brilliance on the tennis court did not win him opportunities to play on the
country clubs and well-kept public courts of Richmond.
That was simply the Jim Crow South and just like to see African-Americans being prevented
from sharing sidewalk spaces, not being able to shop in Downtown
or eat in Downtown.
Jim Crow extended to the sports facilities across the South, and
in Richmond it extended to the tennis courts.
Yet he persevered.
He used his intellect to understand the game and his athletic skill to apply it
in the competition until he could no longer
be ignored. Against the greatest players in the world,
on the ground the stages, he could not be defeated.
Wimbledon, the U.S. Open,
the Australian Open. He had to be incredibly strong to deal with a lot of
that and to keep his focus and to not give up, because I think it would have been
really easy
for someone to
run up against that type of resistance and just say,
"I'm black and I can't do this. They are telling me no and I can't continue."
But that's not what we see with Arthur Ashe. Instead of focusing on living a life
of luxury with his success,
Arthur Ashe chose a life of service.
He brought her worldwide attention to the sins of racial segregation known as
apartheid in South Africa.
The fantastic example that Arhtur Ashe
will leave for us is the example of
an activist athlete. Someone who is not
only able to excel within
thier particular sport--
that's fantastic--but then to translate that celebrity
and that attention and use it to draw other people into a battle against some
great wrong in the world. And that's what Arthur Ashe will do when he begins to
target South Africa, target apartheid as a system
that's being wrong,
and using his celebrity to bring attention to what was happening in that
area of the world and work for a change. Arthur Ashe
uh... is a true
American hero.
He continued Carter G. Woodson's grand tradition of writing the truth of
African-American history with his brilliant three-volume history
of African-American athletes.
I have known since the time of my brain operation in September
that I have AIDS.
A blood transfusion following a heart attack
sent HIV cells streaming into his once indomitable body.
Arthur Ashe transformed his personal adversity into a platform
to enlighten Americans about the realities HIV-AIDS
and in typical style, to meet the challenge head-on.
Arthur Ashe stands apart
a hero of a new age
and an inspiration
for the future.