In 1968, a year fraught with violent civil rights protests and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., tennis legend Arthur Ashe became the first black male athlete to win the U.S. Open. But beyond his groundbreaking accomplishments on the tennis court, Ashe’s tireless activism off of it is equally commendable. And to celebrate his legacy, the city of Richmond, Va., will be naming a street in his honor.
WRIC reports that the official dedication and street unveiling ceremony will take place on Saturday at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.
“In addition to an official sign unveiling to re-name the roughly 2.5-mile Boulevard in honor of the late tennis champion, the celebratory events will re-introduce Ashe’s inspiring life story to Richmond and offer a variety of family-friendly events,” the city of Richmond said in a press release.
The three-day celebration kicked off on Thursday and will feature free community events such as a social justice forum, a community celebration and a bowling party. Civil rights legend Rep. John R. Lewis (D-Ga.) will provide the keynote address at the dedication.
“This is an extremely moving time for my family, but I think it’s also a tremendous success for Richmond as a progressive city,” David Harris, one of Ashe’s nephews, said. “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.”
A native of Richmond, Ashe won three Grand Slam singles titles and became the only black male tennis player to win Wimbledon (1975) and the U.S. Open (1968) before he was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.