Citizen Ashe movie review and movie summary (2022)

Before the Williams sisters, and after Althea Gibson, there was Arthur Ashe. Ashe was the first major Black male tennis star. According to Wikipedia, he is also the only Black to have won singles titles at Wimbledon, Australian Open and US Open. That last event was held at the largest tennis court in the world, Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, Queens. After retiring in 1980 due to heart issues, Ashe became a coach and a sportscaster. In front of the activist, he campaigned against apartheid in South Africa and, after contracting AIDS from blood transfusions, he started the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS. Eventually, he died of the disease on February 6, 1993.

Miller and Pollard show us how it all happened, and it’s much more complicated than the short synopsis shows. For example, Ashe’s path to activism is far from a straight line, nor is there any nuance that is, at times, full of controversy. Ashe became a famous athlete during the tumultuous battle for Civil Rights in the 1960s, but he was less vocal than his peers. “Citizen Ashe” shows how he uses the media to behave very differently from “angry Black athletes” like Cassius Clay. While Clay and Lew Alcindor became Muhammad Ali | and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar each, they also speak out against racial injustices. When asked to add his own voice to the chorus, Ashe declined. A scene of him referring to Jim Crow being treated as “slightly discriminated against” made me utter a few selective insults. Olympic Project for Human Rights founder Dr. Harry Edwardsa prominent person in this documentary, said at one point “we thought he was Uncle Tom!”

“Citizen Ashe” digs deeper, exploring the differences in sports and how they can influence a class’s response to injustice. Like Venus and Serena’s father, Ashe’s father insisted on tennis rather than the “expected” games to be played by a Black. Seen in old photos and footage, the elderly Ashe has a well -known but strict demeanor. In raising her two sons after the death of their mother, she instilled in her sons respect for the authority to survive at special times. Great man likes Jim Brown and Ali is into more serious games than tennis (and more united, at that), and so can make some noise and destroy racists. For tennis, Ashe has to do the more obedient tactic that his idol Jackie Robinson did for baseball. In a way he was allowed to run the long game when it came to observing and changing things from the inside out. People are more unguarded. Dr. Edwards returned later in the documentary to explain this event more clearly than I did.

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