Seventeen year ago today the world lost a great man, humanitarian, and tennis player. Most noted for being the first and only black man to win the most prestigious tennis tournament Wimbledon, Ashe spent the majority of his life in a “universe of possibility”. As stated in The Art of Possibility, “the dramatic action in this world of success and failure has to do with overcoming odds and prevailing, or being acknowledged and included”. (Zander & Zander 2000) Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr. brought public awareness to South Africa’s apartheid policies when he was denied a visa by the South African government which kept him out of the South African Open.
On February 6, 1993 Arthur Ashe died of AIDS-related pneumonia in New York at the age of 49. His body was laid in state at the Governor’s Mansion in his hometown of Richmond, VA. He was the first person to lie in state at the mansion since the Confederate general Stonewall Jackson in 1863. More than 5,000 people lined up to walk past the casket. His funeral was attended by nearly 6,000 people including New York City mayor David Dinkins, Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder, Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and Rainbow Coalition chairman Jesse Jackson. Andrew Young, the former U.N. ambassador and Atlanta mayor who had married Arthur, delivered the eulogy.
We miss you Mr. Ashe!