City of Richmond, Virginia Hosting Three-Day Celebration Honoring Arthur Ashe, Jr.

Arthur Ashe, Jr.
(CREDITS:  Reprint and photos courtesy of Richmond Free Press)

Three days of celebrating Arthur Ashe Jr.

Next week, Richmond’s focus will be on honoring the late hometown tennis star and humanitarian.

The celebration that starts on Thursday, June 20, will be capped at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 22, with the ceremonial unveiling of new street signs for Arthur Ashe Boulevard between Westwood Avenue, the Arthur Ashe Center and the once whites-only Byrd Park tennis courts from which Mr. Ashe was turned away as a youth.

Thousands of people are expected to turn out for the main event as the Ashe family joins elected officials and a host of others to celebrate the renaming of the 2.5-mile street long known now as The Boulevard.

Georgia Congressman John R. Lewis, a civil rights icon, is to deliver the keynote address at the event that will take place at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 428 Arthur Ashe Blvd.

“Arthur Ashe is one of Richmond’s true champions,” Mayor Levar M. Stoney stated.

Along with reaching the pinnacle of the sport with three grand slam wins, Mr. Ashe was a “champion for equality and social justice who is more than worthy of this honor,” the mayor noted.

Mr. Ashe battled racism at home, apartheid in South Africa and oppression in Haiti. He also brought awareness to the AIDS epidemic and the need for research funding after contracting the disease through a blood transfusion during heart bypass surgery. He died of complications from the disease in February 1993.

He also launched the now defunct Virginia Heroes mentoring program for Richmond Public Schools students and sought to bring recognition to long ignored black sports heroes.

The family is proud of Richmond’s latest recognition for Mr. Ashe, who also is honored with a statue on Monument Avenue.

“This is an extremely moving time for my family, but I think it’s also a tremendous success for Richmond as a progressive city,” said David Harris, a concrete company executive whose helped push the third and ultimately successful effort to get the street renamed for his uncle.

“Not only will everyone be coming together to celebrate our local, world-renowned tennis legend, but we’re also putting a stake in the ground for Arthur Ashe’s legacy of social justice, which is good for all of us.”
Ashe Celebration Schedule
Thursday, June 20
• Arthur Ashe Boulevard Social Justice Forum, 7 to 9 p.m., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 200 Arthur Ashe Blvd. Program examines Mr. Ashe’s legacy in social justice.

Friday, June 21
• Arthur Ashe Boulevard Tennis Under the Lights Event & Movies at the Park, 6 to 9 p.m. Byrd Park Tennis Courts. Doubles tennis play for all on the courts, plus a showing of “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” at 8 p.m.

• Arthur Ashe Boulevard Kickoff Celebration & Bowling Party — 7 p.m. to midnight, River City Roll, 939 Myers St. – Free family bowling, 7 to 9 p.m., and live music, 9 p.m. to midnight.

Saturday, June 22
• Arthur Ashe Boulevard Unveiling Ceremony, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Virginia Museum of History & Culture, 428 Arthur Ashe Blvd.

• Opening of exhibit “Determined: The 400-Year Struggle for Black Equality,” 12:30 to 5 p.m., Virginia Museum of History & Culture, free tour of new exhibition on the black experience in Virginia.

• Arthur Ashe Boulevard Community Celebration, 1 to 5 p.m., Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center, 3001 Arthur Ashe Blvd., community celebration with tennis clinics for youngsters and adults.

• Arthur Ashe Boulevard After Party, 8 to 11 p.m., The Graduate Richmond, 301 W. Franklin St.
All events are listed as being family friendly and open to the public without charge.

 

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