With a Foreword by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe
Available once again for a new generation of readers, the first volume in Arthur Ashe’s epic trilogy that chronicles the remarkable legacy of Black athletes in the United States—a major addition to our understanding of American history and the fulfillment of this legendary sports star and global activist’s lifelong dream.
When tennis great Arthur Ashe first published his A Hard Road to Glory trilogy, this ambitious project—recognizing the contributions of Black athletes to American sports and culture—was the first of its kind, a milestone in the presentation of United States social history.
Ashe had long believed that Black people needed to know their cultural history. But while teaching a seminar on the history of African American athletes at Florida Memorial College in 1981, he realized there was a vast amount of material about Black achievement that had never been collected, analyzed, and interpreted. To help to fill the gap, he began with the subject he knew best: sports.
A Hard Road to Glory Volume 1 covers the period from 1619, when enslaved Africans were first brought to American shores, to 1918, the end of the First World War. Ashe reveals that from 1865 through 1896, Black Americans succeeded spectacularly in sports, witnessing accomplishments of athletes like Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight champion; Marshall Taylor, “the world's fastest cyclist;” and Isaac Murphy, a Hall of Fame jockey and the first three-time winner of the Kentucky Derby.
In 2021, Black athletes and Black women in particular are receiving more visibility than ever for their unparalleled, world record-breaking excellence, their activism, and their leadership and vision. Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Sha’Carri Richardson, and Naomi Osaka are consistently elevating athletics and are reshaping the way we think about sports, excellence, society, and history.
Arthur Ashe paved the way for them all; A Hard Road to Glory is fundamental to our understanding of Black athletes and our nation’s past, present, and future. Now more than ever, this collection is one of this amazing icon’s greatest legacies—a treasure to be celebrated by readers today and those to come.
About the Author
Throughout his twenty-year tennis career, Arthur Ashe won some of the most coveted singles championship titles in tennis: Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the Australian Open and the World Cup Team Finals. Aside from Yannick Noah, he remains the only Black man to have won a Grand Slam title. Ashe was a member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team from 1963 to 1970, and in 1975, 1976, and 1978; as its captain, he led the team to victories in 1981 and 1982. He was a member of the U.S. World Cup Team from 1970 to 1976, and in 1979. Not only a singularly talented athlete, Ashe was also a vocal champion for human rights across the globe and marched against South African apartheid and protested against the mistreatment of Haitian refugees. He retired from professional tennis in 1980, and went on to become National Campaign Chairman for the American Heart Association and the only nonmedical member of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Advisory Council. Ashe contracted HIV from a blood transfusion in 1983, and later founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS. Sports Illustrated named him Sportsman of the Year in 1992: “Arthur Ashe epitomizes good works, devotion to family and unwavering grace under pressure.” He died in New York City on February 6, 1993. Ashe was married to fine art photographer Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the author of Viewfinders: Black Women Photographers. They lived in New York City with their daughter Camera.