February 6th in African American History – Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr.

Arthur Robert AsheFebruary 6, 1993, Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr., professional tennis player and civil rights activist, died.

Ashe was born July 10, 1943 in Richmond, Virginia. In 1963, he became the first black player ever selected to the United States Davis Cup team. In 1965, Ashe won the National Collegiate Athletic Association tennis singles title. Ashe graduated from the University of California (UCLA) in the ROTC program with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1966 and spent the next two years in the Army reaching the rank of first lieutenant.

In 1968, Ashe won the U. S. Amateur Championship and the U. S. Open, the only player to ever win both in the same year. Ashe turned professional in 1969 and won the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975.

Ashe retired in 1980 and was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985. Two months before his death, Ashe founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health to address issues of inadequate health care delivery and his memoir, “Days of Grace,” was published immediately following his death.

Posthumously, Ashe received many honors, including a statue on Monument Avenue in Richmond, the 1993 Presidential Medal of Freedom from President William Clinton, naming of the main stadium at the USTA National Tennis Center in his honor, a commemorative postage stamp issued by the United States Postal Service in 2005, and the ESPN Arthur Ashe Courage Award for a member of the sports world who best exhibits courage in the face of adversity. Also many schools are named in his honor, including the Arthur Ashe Academy in Southfield, Michigan.

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