The plan for the thoroughfare renaming has been in the works for several years and it finally came to fruition on Saturday. Loved ones, elected officials, community leaders and supporters gathered for the unveiling of Arthur Ashe Boulevard.
Ashe has broken several barriers for Black athletes over the course of his career. The tennis star—who earned three Grand Slam titles—was the first African American player to be selected for the U.S. Davis Cup team. He was also the first Black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the U.S. Open. His impact transcended beyond the tennis court. Ashe utilized his platform to spread awareness about social issues. He created the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health and the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS.
Earlier this year, the Richmond City Council approved a plan to name a stretch of Route 161 after the athlete. Hundreds of individuals, including Rep. John Lewis, were there to see the vision realized. “This is an extremely moving time for my family, but I think it’s also a tremendous success for Richmond as a progressive city,” Ashe’s nephew David Harris told ABC News. “We’re also putting a stake in the ground for Arthur Ashe’s legacy of social justice, which is good for all of us.”
Cities across the country have been pushing their efforts to rename streets after Black pioneers forward. NASA recently renamed the street in front of its headquarters “Hidden Figures Way” to honor mathematicians Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan for breaking barriers for African Americans in the space industry and pushing space exploration forward.