RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The multi-day celebration of the new Arthur Ashe Boulevard in Richmond is set to kick off Thursday.
The official dedication and street unveiling ceremony will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
“In addition to an official sign unveiling to re-name the roughly 2.5-mile Boulevard in honor of the late tennis champion, the celebratory events will re-introduce Ashe’s inspiring life story to Richmond and offer a variety of family-friendly events,” the city of Richmond said in a press release.
The three-day celebration will begin Thursday night at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and last through Saturday night at the Graduate Richmond.
In February, Richmond City Council voted to change the name of Boulevard to honor Ashe, who was a champion on and off the tennis court — fighting for civil rights while breaking athletic records.
Ashe, a Richmond-native, was once ranked the number one tennis player in the world.
In the 1950s, Ashe was denied access to the all-white tennis and recreational facilities at Byrd Park. Instead, Ashe honed his skills at Brook Field, the city’s park for black residents.
National, state and local elected leaders are expected to attend and participate in the dedication ceremony Saturday, along with Ashe family representatives.
“This is an extremely moving time for my family, but I think it’s also a tremendous success for Richmond as a progressive city,” said David Harris, nephew of the late Arthur Ashe and a key driver in the Boulevard’s re-naming. “Not only will everyone be coming together to celebrate our local, world-renowned tennis legend, but we’re also putting a stake in the ground for Arthur Ashe’s legacy of social justice, which is good for all of us.”
Civil rights leader and U.S. Rep. John R. Lewis, (D-GA) will deliver the keynote address.
The full schedule of community events — all of which are free, family-friendly and open to the public —include:
- Arthur Ashe Boulevard Social Justice Forum, Thursday, June 20, 7-9 p.m., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts – Learn about social justice and find out how it was part of Arthur Ashe’s legacy.
- Arthur Ashe Boulevard Tennis Under the Lights Event & Movies at the Park, Friday, June 21, 6-9 p.m., Byrd Park – Join local tennis organizations in celebration of Ashe’s sport; stick around for an evening of movies and other festivities.
- Arthur Ashe Boulevard Kick-off Celebration & Bowling Party, Friday, June 21, 7 p.m. to midnight, River City Roll – Enjoy kids and family bowling night (7-9 p.m.) as well as live music (9 p.m. to midnight) at this Scott’s Addition bowling alley along Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Donations suggested.
- Arthur Ashe Boulevard Unveiling Ceremony & Exhibition Opening, Saturday, June 22, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Virginia Museum of History & Culture – Join us as we make history with the City of Richmond; city, state, and national dignitaries will officially unveil the re-named Boulevard.
- Arthur Ashe Boulevard Community Celebration, Saturday, June 22, 1-5 p.m., Arthur Ashe Jr. Athletic Center – Celebrate with the community and participate in sponsored tennis clinics for kids and adults.
- Arthur Ashe Boulevard After-Party, Saturday, June 22, 8-11 p.m., The Graduate Richmond: the official Arthur Ashe Boulevard Celebration host – Cap off three days of excitement around Arthur Ashe and the City of Richmond.
To learn more about the Arthur Ashe Boulevard naming or the schedule of events, visit here.