September 06, 2018

During U.S. Open, Kaine, Capito, Warner, McEachin, Scott Commemorate Arthur Ashe On 50th Anniversary Of Historic Win

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressmen Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) announced their plans to introduce bicameral resolutions to commemorate Arthur Ashe, a Richmond, VA native, on the 50th anniversary of his historic win at the 1968 U.S. Open Tennis Championship. The resolution honors Ashe’s humanitarian contributions to civil rights, education, the movement against apartheid in South Africa, and HIV/AIDS awareness. The 2018 U.S. Open Tennis Championship is currently underway.

“Virginians will always be proud of what Arthur Ashe accomplished on and off the court,” Kaine said. “He set an example of how to be a leader, and 50 years after his historic win, he deserves this recognition.”

“As an avid tennis player, I’ve always been a fan of Arthur Ashe. Not only was he an incredible athlete, but he was also a great humanitarian and an advocate for many important causes. He built his legacy both on the court and through the many other efforts he championed around the world, and I’m excited to sponsor this resolution honoring that legacy,” Capito said.

“Although most remember Arthur Ashe as a fierce competitor on the tennis court, he was also an activist and an incredible force for racial and social justice,” said Warner. “This much deserved tribute honors him for using his platform to be a champion for all.”

“I am so proud to introduce a House Resolution honoring the life, legacy, and leadership of the great Arthur Ashe,” said McEachin. “Ashe’s contributions to American history continue to make his fellow Richmonders proud – just as we were on the historic day 50 years ago.”

“This bicameral resolution will further solidify the legacy of Arthur Ashe by honoring his legacy both on and off the court. As Virginians and Americans we are inspired by his achievements,” said Scott.

Full text of the resolution is below:

Title: Commemorating Arthur Ashe, a native of Richmond, Virginia, on the 50th anniversary of his historic win at the 1968 U.S. Open Tennis Championship and honoring his humanitarian contributions to civil rights, education, the movement against apartheid in South Africa, and HIV/AIDS awareness.

Whereas Arthur Ashe won the U.S. Open Tennis Championship on September 9, 1968, in the first year the tournament was open to professionals, while he was on active duty based at the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point;

Whereas Arthur Ashe’s victory, following his amateur U.S. National Championship title two weeks earlier, marked the first time an African-American man won a major title;

Whereas Arthur Ashe was born in Richmond, Virginia, on July 10, 1943, and raised by his widowed father in a house on the grounds of Brook Field, the largest playground for blacks in Richmond, the segregated capital of the former Confederacy;

Whereas Arthur Ashe first learned to play tennis at 7 years old and showed enough talent to later receive coaching and guidance from Dr. Robert Walter Johnson, a pioneer for black tennis players;

Whereas, although prohibited in Richmond from competing in tournaments and practicing at municipal indoor courts because of segregation, Arthur Ashe won the National Junior Indoor tennis title, becoming the first African-American male to do so and earning a scholarship in 1963 to play tennis at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps;

Whereas Arthur Ashe graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and was assigned to West Point by the United States Army, where he earned promotions to first lieutenant and also led the tennis program;

Whereas the amateur and professional tennis accomplishments of Arthur Ashe included National Collegiate Athletic Association singles and doubles titles, the Australian Open title in 1970, and the Wimbledon title in 1975;

Whereas Arthur Ashe became the first black player selected to the Davis Cup team for the United States, which he later coached;

Whereas Arthur Ashe’s accomplishments on the tennis court gave him a platform to pursue social justice during a turbulent time in the civil rights era;

Whereas Arthur Ashe’s activism included efforts to end apartheid in South Africa;

Whereas Arthur Ashe pushed for, and eventually earned, a visa to play in the National Championships in South Africa in 1973;

Whereas Arthur Ashe was arrested twice, first for protesting outside the Embassy of South Africa in Washington, D.C., and later for protesting the repatriation of Haitian refugees by the United States Government;

Whereas Arthur Ashe researched the history of African-American athletics and published a groundbreaking book, “Hard Road to Glory: A History of the African-American Athlete”, celebrating the accomplishments of heroes known and unknown;

Whereas after suffering a heart attack in 1979 and contracting HIV/AIDS as a result of a blood transfusion, Arthur Ashe resolved to educate the people of the United States and the world about the disease and advocated for more resources to end an epidemic that disproportionately affected marginalized communities, including communities of color;

Whereas Arthur Ashe succumbed to complications from HIV/AIDS and died on February 6, 1993, and became the first African American to lie in state at the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond; and

Whereas President Bill Clinton posthumously awarded Arthur Ashe the Presidential Medal of Freedom on June 20, 1993, and the Richmond City Council voted unanimously to erect a statue on historic Monument Avenue to honor his achievements: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) honors Arthur Ashe, a native of Richmond, Virginia, on the 50th anniversary of his historic win at the U.S. Open Tennis Championship; and

(2) celebrates his contributions to education, scholarship, the anti-apartheid movement, and HIV/AIDS awareness.