Arthur Ashe, tennis champion and human rights activist, is one of UCLA’s most accomplished and influential alumni. As we look back at Arthur's life, clearly his chapter in American and tennis history overlaps with the present. Today, you have the opportunity to support the next generation of change-makers who embody Ashe’s ideals by making a gift OF ANY SIZE to help us reach 177 participants in honor of what would have been Ashe's 77th birthday this summer.
Earlier this year, in collaboration with The Center For Oral History Research, the Arthur Ashe Oral History Project was launched with the intention to develop an archive of oral histories and other archival documents. The project is conducting a growing series of interviews with friends, family, and associates sharing their personal recollections of Ashe and reflecting on the evolution of tennis and historical events of the times. Preservation of Ashe's legacy will safeguard history, while building awareness and understanding of the significance of Ashe’s life. Our fundraising efforts will span the length of the U.S. Open and conclude on September 22nd, 2020. Your gift will help us capture, publish and memorialize these stories building the foundation for UCLA to be the epicenter of his life and legacy.
Funding will support oral historians, including the project director, from the Center for Oral History at UCLA who will capture the stories. Historians will collect and organize his history; create reading lists, exercises, games and assignments to engage that history and put it all on a public state-of-the art digital platform available to students, teachers, writers and the public at large. An integral part of the Ashe exhibit and digital archive, the oral history project will elevate Ashe’s story, values and good works, and hopefully inspire the people who encounter it.
A Note from Yolanda Yvette-Hester, Ashe Oral History Project Director
Ashe’s tennis career, which emerged In the 60s amidst the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements, and student protests, unfolded at a pivotal time for tennis. In 1968 the sport transitioned to the “open era” where both professional and amateur players could compete in the Grand Slam Tournaments. The era ushered in many opportunities for players and spurred a growing commercial interest in the sport. Ashe would become the first African American to play on the US Davis Cup team and remains the only African American man to win the singles title at Wimbledon and the US Open. The recordings will reflect on each of these moments as well as stories of his childhood in Richmond, Virginia, his visit to South Africa in the early 70s, his activism and stories about his time in ROTC at UCLA and service at West Point.
Chinyere Nwonye, Oral Historian and I, Yolanda Hester, Project Director, started conducting interviews in January of this year with a commitment from over 40 of Ashe’s associates. When the pandemic struck in March, we were thrilled to be able to transition the project to online interviews. For more information on The Arthur Ashe Legacy Fund and The Center For Oral History Research, please visit their websites at:
The Arthur Ashe Legacy at UCLA promotes service, scholarship and sportsmanship, the values Ashe stood for as a Bruin and throughout his life. Ashe’s legacy goes far beyond his historic win at the inaugural US Open Championship in 1968, when he became the first (and so far, the only) African- American man to raise the trophy. Following his brilliant tennis career, Ashe devoted his life to social justice, civil rights, health and education.
In 2016, the Arthur Ashe Learning Center (AALC) originally dedicated to providing a unique multimedia resource for understanding and promoting the legacy and values embodied in the life and work of Arthur Ashe, transitioned its programs to UCLA. Here they became part of the Arthur Ashe Legacy Fund, creating a powerful partnership to continue the AALC’s educational mission at Arthur’s alma mater - the creation, dissemination, preservation and application of knowledge for the betterment of our global society.
“It is hard to imagine a better home for Arthur’s legacy. He made a lasting impact in areas ranging from athletics to education to health to service — all of which are prominent components of UCLA’s mission. UCLA represents much of what he stood for and continues to pass those values on to the next generation.”
Excerpted from Arthur Ashe: A Life Beyond Milestones, an article by Patricia A. Turner, Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education and Senior Dean of the UCLA College (2017)
We tend to recognize heroes like Arthur Ashe in a kind of shorthand: first African-American man to win singles tennis titles at the U.S. Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon, and the first African-American to be selected to represent the U.S. at the Davis Cup.
But these accolades are a small part of a much richer history. The trajectory of this tennis player’s life—from his birth in the Jim Crow South of the 1940s to his untimely death from AIDS in 1993—brings much of the American century to life, with all the complexity that gets lost when we think of people solely as achievers of milestones. And, perhaps because recent history is often the most neglected history, it is also the vital missing link in explaining where we’re coming from as a society, and providing exemplars for how we might face similar challenges in our future. Arthur Ashe’s life provides a good checklist of the traits needed to become a better individual and to participate in a better, more just society.
To be sure, much has changed since Ashe’s time, but our times are turbulent as well; issues of race, class, war, and disease continue to shape 21st-century life. If we can learn from Ashe’s life how to sustain personal and professional integrity, how to handle setbacks with grace, and how to play the long game, we will lead lives of distinction and purpose.
*Gifts are managed and invested in accordance with UCLA’s endowment investment policies. The total return earned in excess of the amount approved annually for payout will be retained in the endowment principal to protect from the effects of inflation and to allow for growth. At the Chancellor’s discretion, when the payout is not needed for purposes of the fund, the return of payout may be added to the endowment fund principal. In the event the fund does not reach endowment minimum; or the program ceases to exist at UCLA, proceeds from the fund will be utilized in an area and manner as closely related as possible to the original intent and purposes for which the fund was established.
Confirming his great love of UCLA, Arthur made a first gift to his alma mater in 1973. Your donation today picks up where Arthur Ashe left off in his mission to make education open and available to all.
Ashe was born on July 10, 1943. This year, in what would have been his 77th birthday, honor his legacy by making a gift and continue the fight for social justice. When you join in the celebrations, you will also receive a commemorative pin and t-shirt. (tax deductible gift of $71)
In 2018, Ray Arsenault wrote the revelatory biography, "Arthur Ashe: A Life", chronicling not only Ashe’s tennis achievements, but also his work as a human rights activist. He was relentlessly dedicated to education, racial justice and sportsmanship. Your gift will help continue his lifetime’s work of active citizenship. As a way of thanking you for your gift, you will receive a paperback copy of Ashe’s biography signed by Ray Arsenault, along with the commemorative pin and t-shirt (tax deductible gift of $236.59).
In 1972, Ashe helped found the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), the organization that unionized the professional tour and protected the interests of its players. Like Arthur, your founding gift to The Arthur Ashe Legacy project at UCLA will help be used to make tennis and education equitable. To thank you for this generous contribution, you will receive a hardcopy signed copy of Ray Arsenaut’s book, plus a commemorative pin and t-shirt (tax deductible gift of $488.80).
For your generous gift at this level, you will receive a limited edition, signed canvas print of Arthur Ashe by artist, Brendan Murphy. Murphy is a world renowned painter who was invited to the Roger’s Cup as their inaugural official artist. Exemplifying his distinctive style of a mix abstract and figurative from, the painting of Ashe is described by Murphy as “the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done”, as it gave him the opportunity to contribute art to Ashe’s legacy. Painting size is 19.5 x 29.25.
You will also receive the additional perks, including the autobiography, pin and t-shirt (for a total tax deductible gift of $488.80).