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McKay Jenkins

tennis player, author, and political activist, was born Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Arthur Ashe Sr., a police officer, and Mattie Cunningham. Tall and slim as a young boy, Ashe was forbidden by his father to play football; he took up tennis instead on the segregated playground courts at Brookfield Park, near his home. By the time he was ten years old he came under the tutelage of a local tennis fan and physician from Lynchburg, R. Walter Johnson. Johnson had previously nurtured the talents of Althea Gibson, who became the first African American to win Wimbledon, in 1957 and 1958, and his second protégé would prove no less successful. Johnson was an exacting coach he had his charges practice hitting tennis balls with broom handles to develop their hand eye coordination But his lessons extended beyond tennis he also ...

Article

Michelle S. Hite

tennis player, activist, broadcast journalist, and humanitarian. Born in Richmond, Virginia, Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. was the son of Arthur and Mattie Ashe. Arthur experienced a traumatic loss at age six when his mother died suddenly. He turned inward and toward books and learning. An excellent student, he graduated first in his high school class. Given his appetite for books, success as a student was likely; however, given his physical stature, his success as a tennis player was a surprise. Though physically small, the skills he honed on the public recreational courts, maintained by his father, helped mold him into a top player.

Coming of age in segregated Richmond Virginia shaped Ashe s early tennis experiences and informed his political consciousness He was not allowed to compete on the city s best courts or in the city s top tournaments To improve his game he ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

Arthur Ashe was born July 10, 1943, in Richmond, Virginia, to Mattie and Arthur Robert Ashe Sr. He began playing Tennis at the age of ten under the guidance of Dr. Walter Johnson, a prominent coach of African American youth from Lynchburg, Virginia. With Johnson's coaching, Ashe won three American Tennis Association (ATA) boy's championships, becoming the first African American junior to be ranked by the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA).

Between 1960 and 1963 Ashe won three ATA men's singles titles, became the first African American on the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team, and the first African American to win a USLTA national title in the South. His achievements earned him a full scholarship to the University of California at Los Angeles, where he attended from 1961 to 1966 earning a bachelor s degree in business administration While in college Ashe won the U ...

Article

James S. Hirsch

boxer who was wrongfully convicted of triple homicide in two racially charged trials, was born in Delawanna, New Jersey, the son of Bertha, a homemaker, and Lloyd Carter, an entrepreneur and church deacon who stressed to his seven children the importance of family pride and unity.

The Carters moved to nearby Paterson when Rubin was six years old, and the youngster soon developed a reputation for brawling, rebelling against authority, and committing petty crimes. At seventeen he escaped from Jamesburg State Home for Boys, where he had been sentenced for cutting a man with a bottle, and joined the army. As a member of the Eleventh Airborne, he was sent to Germany, where he learned to box and won the European Light Welterweight Championship.

Discharged from the army in 1956 Carter returned to Paterson but was soon in trouble again The following year he pled guilty to robbing ...

Article

Adam R. Hornbuckle

was born in East Orange, New Jersey, the eldest of the two children of Jetta Clark and Dr. Joe Louis Clark. The Clarks lived in Newark, a short distance from her birthplace, until moving to South Orange after the 1967 riots. Her father, who served as the principal of Eastside High School, in Paterson, New Jersey, gained national attention for enforcing discipline and improving academic achievement at Eastside, one of the state’s toughest inner-city schools, and became the subject of the 1989 film Lean on Me, in which the award-winning actor Morgan Freeman portrayed him.

Clark performed with the Alvin Ailey Junior Dance Company until the age of fourteen, when she began to participate in track, concentrating on the half-mile (880 yards), the distance at which her father excelled at William Patterson University (then known as the Paterson State Teachers College) in Wayne, New Jersey. Interviewed for the Best ...

Article

Arthur Ben Chitty

author, black activist, and clairvoyant, was born near Sewanee, Tennessee, to a college student, Edward H. Wicks, later a Texas attorney, and Lena Green, a fourteen-year-old kitchen servant and daughter of a privy cleaner who had been a slave. In Green's own words, he was “a half-white bastard.” His mother died when he was eight, and he was reared by Mattie Davis, a sympathetic neighbor who worked as a domestic. He did not finish the second grade and was largely self-taught. His phenomenal vocabulary came about because, as he said, “I studied from every man who would talk to me.”

Green s youth up to age eighteen was spent in Sewanee the site of the University of the South He worked odd jobs such as shining shoes carrying spring water to the third floor of dormitories and selling peanuts at sports events He had ...

Article

Ariel Bookman

Kenyan pioneer, horse trainer, aviator, and memoirist, was born on 26 October 1902 in Ashwell, Leicestershire, England, to Charles Clutterbuck, a former army officer, and Clara, née Alexander. Her parents, attracted by the intensive British government effort to promote white settlement in Kenya (then British East Africa), moved there with Beryl and her older brother Richard in 1904. Beryl’s early life was thus shaped by the unique opportunities open to a white child in a frontier colony: she spoke Swahili nearly as early as she did English; learned hunting, games, and mythology from her father’s Nandi tenants; and grew to recognize herself as part of Africa. As she phrased it in her 1942 memoir West with the Night with characteristic, figurative simplicity, “My feet were on the earth of Africa” (134).

Her mother soon returned with Richard to England where she remarried According to one of Markham s biographers ...

Article

Michael Ezra

football player, was born in Wichita, Kansas, one of three children of Roger Winfield Sayers, a car polisher and mechanic for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and Bernice Ross. In 1951 the family moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where Roger Sayers's brother lived. But financial difficulties forced the family to move within the city nine times in eight years. By the time Gale entered high school, his parents were suffering from depression and alcohol abuse, and the family lived in poverty. Because they often had no coal for their furnace, Gale and his two brothers would turn on the kitchen's gas oven for nighttime heat, which often caused them to wake up feeling sick.Despite such adversity Sayers thrived while in Omaha because the city gave him opportunities to compete in sports At the Howard Kennedy grade school Sayers led his teams to city titles in baseball ...

Article

Vincent A. Shivers

football Hall of Famer, author, and business executive. Gale Eugene Sayers was born in Wichita, Kansas. In 1951, after the death of Gale's grandfather, the family moved to Nebraska. In Nebraska, Sayers began his career as an athlete, joining the Midget Football League and becoming a standout. At Omaha's Central High School he was an exceptional track-and-field athlete, receiving three gold medals. As a senior he set a statewide record in the long jump. Sayers was named to the All-Midwestern and All-American high school football teams. He signed several letters of intent for football scholarships. Institutions such as Iowa State and Notre Dame were interested in Sayers, but he decided on the University of Kansas at Lawrence.

Sayers earned the nickname the Kansas Comet because of his remarkable skills as a running back While a freshman Sayers struggled with his classes fortunately that same year he ...

Article

Sarah L. Trembanis

professional Negro League catcher and major league baseball talent scout, was born in Dublin, Georgia, to Mary and Charles, a sharecropper. Troupe was the youngest of ten children. The Troupe family joined the Great Migration of African Americans fleeing the South for greater opportunities in urban centers in the North. Following a difficult encounter with a white overseer, Troupe's father and two of his older brothers moved to St. Louis in order to find work and secure enough money to bring the rest of the family to Missouri. Troupe stayed behind with his mother and other siblings, and when Troupe was ten years old, his father sent money for train fare, and the family was reunited in St. Louis. The family soon settled in Compton Hill where Troupe attended Touissaint L'Overture Elementary School and Vashon High School in the 1920s.

Troupe competed on both his high school and ...