In partnership with the Virginia Museum of History & Culture (VMHC) and the Commonwealth of Virginia, the City of Richmond will co-host the official dedication of Arthur Ashe Boulevard on Saturday, June 22nd at 11:00 AM on the museum’s front lawn, 428 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard.
The dedication will include remarks from local and state elected officials and a ceremonial sign unveiling. The event is free and open to the public.
“This summer we officially honor one of Richmond’s native sons and humanitarians as we are telling the stories of ALL of RVA’s people,” said Mayor Levar M. Stoney. “Arthur Ashe is a true champion, and this recognition is well-deserved as he took what he learned growing up in our neighborhoods and used those experiences to make the world a better place.”
Growing up in Richmond, Virginia in the 1950s, and denied access to Byrd Park, the premier, all-white recreational facility, Ashe learned to play tennis in the city’s park for blacks, Brook Field. At 18, in 1961, Ashe became the first black player to win the previously all-white National Interscholastic tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Two years later, he became the first black player selected for the U.S. Davis Cup team. In 1968, he became the first black man to win the U.S. Open. But Ashe didn’t stop at the U.S. border: In 1973, during apartheid, he traveled to Johannesburg to become the first black player to compete in the South Africa Open. The memory of segregation-of separate but unequal – would lead him to become a lifelong integrationist, both in his words and actions.
“What an amazing time to be in the City of Richmond – a time inspired by the legacy of my uncle, Arthur Ashe, Jr.,” said David Harris, nephew of Arthur Ashe. “We want to thank the City of Richmond for your efforts in doing what is right. Together, we will show the world what can be done when we come together with purpose, generosity, and intentionality for the greatness of our city.”
The event also coincides with the opening of the VHMC groundbreaking exhibition, Determined: The 400-Year Struggle for Black Equality. Determined explores the black experience from the 1619 arrival of the first enslaved Africans in English North America to the present day. The exhibit traces the ways in which black people have profoundly shaped the course of American history and the nature of American democracy through their fight for freedom, equality, and justice. Determined features dozens of artifacts that tell the compelling stories of a selection of remarkable Virginians, including Arthur Ashe, Jr. Click here to view the VHMC release further detailing the exhibition.
“We are deeply honored to host this important ceremony and excited about what it means for the future of this historic institution, our great city, and our Commonwealth,” said Jamie O. Bosket, president & CEO of VMHC. “It will be a special privilege to welcome dignitaries and special guests from our city, around Virginia and across the nation as we make an important step forward in remembering one of Richmond’s most famous sons and better tell a complete story of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
On June 22, the public will be invited to park at the Arthur Ashe Center, 3001 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Shuttles will operate on the Arthur Ashe Boulevard corridor to assist with public attendance.
The official sign unveiling will occur in front of VMHC beginning at 11 a.m. After the unveiling, the museum will be open free to visitors to view the new exhibit.
In addition, the City of Richmond will be hosting an Arthur Ashe Boulevard Community Celebration starting at 1:00 PM at the Arthur Ashe Center. The community celebration will be open to the public and will include tennis clinics, musical guests, food trucks, and more.