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Learning from history: Arthur Ashe’s biography quotes

“According to Arthur, these blunt questions provoked “tremendous discussions about oral versus written history, origins and legacies, and the similarities between black people the world over. Right or wrong, at the age of eighteen he had entered the world of ideas, an intellectual arena that would ultimately provide him with countless challenges and much satisfaction.” (p.94)

“In 1961 most college athletes kept their politic views to themselves- especially if they were black. Black college athletes, Smith observed, were expected to perform on the field, appreciate their education opportunity, ignore racial insults and humiliations, and behave like good negroes. Later in life, Ashe would challenge this mandated silence, but during his UCLA years he was too focused on tennis and too intent on fitting in to voice his opinions on race or any public issue. While he was intellectually curious enough to keep abreast of current events, he didn’t feel he could afford to expend time and energy on matters unconnected to his formal courses or his competition on the court.” (p.96)

“There would be many such moments in the years to come, but Arthur would never forget the kindness he encountered as a vulnerable college freshman breaching the barriers of race, class, and fame in the desert.” (p.98)

“Hackensack, New Jersey, the first stop on the summer tour, was a far cry from Wimbledon. But being there represented an important step on the path to both adulthood and full participation in the world of competitive tennis.” (p.100)

“You can imagine the feeling- traveling away from home and never seeing anybody of your own race.You’re not scared but you’re always on guard.” (p.101)

“Arthur had heard this type of criticism before- that he was as errantic as he was talented. But he didn’t mind, preferring the image of a flashy risk taker to that of a plodding baseliner. At least some people in the tennis world had begun to notice he was capable of creative and innovative play. More than anything else, he wanted to be thought of a as a young Pancho Gonzales, a shotmaker with poker who could invent dazzling new strokes whenever he needed them.” (p.102)

“As Arthur walked back to his room alone, his mind raced with thoughts of how shocked his friends and family back in Richmond would have been to see him dancing with and kissing a white girl.” (p.104)

“He was not unnerved at one point that he bravely called his father to ask if it would be a serious problem if he happened to marry a white woman. Don’t make no difference to me, Arthur Sr. responded, as long as she’s a good person.” (p.105)

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