Posted: February 6, 2011 by Jay Rasean in Kasual
Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr.
(July 10, 1943 â€“ February 6, 1993)

Today marks the 18th anniversary of the death of a prominent member of the African-American community, Arthur Ashe. Ashe was a professional tennis player, who is possibly the greatest American player in history. Not only did Ashe when three Grand Slam titles, but he is the sole African American tennis player to win the men’s singles at the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open

Many remember Arthur Ashe as one of the greatest tennis players of all time-he was also quite the social activist. Ashe’s political position was in favor of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, he was highly involved in helping to promote social integration.  Ashe was a part of a delegation of 31 African-Americans who went to South Africa on a quest to bring about a political change. Ashe was arrested several times during his many conquests for civil rights. In 1992, Ashe was arrested outside of the White House for protesting harsh treatment of Haitian refugees.

Despite the fact the Ashe was a professional athlete, he suffered many health issues. Ashe suffered a heart attack in 1979, then underwent a quadruple bypass surgery to correct the issue. While plotting his return to the world of tennis, Ashe began to have chest pains while jogging. Just four years later in 1983, Ashe had to endure a second set of surgeries to correct the previous bypass surgery. During this process, Ashe a received a blood transfusion-in which he contracted HIV. Due to his many ailments, Ashe founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health to help address issues of inadequate health care for African-Americans. An unsatisfactory routine bypass procedure; followed by blood transfusions causing him  to be H.I.V positive-all were examples of the poor health care African-Americans received. Whether or not these issues related to race, Ashe recognized in his declining health-that a change must be made to correct the devastating mistakes being made world-wide.

On February 6th, just 18 years ago today, Arthur Ashe died from AIDS-related pneumonia. In light of his illness; prior to his death he founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS. He was a tennis great, a formative participant in the furthering of civil rights, and an advocate for the poor health practices concerning minorities. Many athletes perform at a high capacity, then for reasons of increasing age or declining health retire to a life of mediocrity-Arthur Ashe did not. He prevailed, and served the people of his own country as well as from other countries and cultures. Arthur Ashe was a legend on many platforms, and a major reason why black history should be celebrated year ’round.


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