Arthur Ashe statue to stay up in Richmond after vandalism, ‘White Lives Matter’ graffiti

Ryan Young
·2 min read

Despite the statue being vandalized during recent protests, and his family asking for it to come down, the statue of tennis legend Arthur Ashe will remain up on Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia.

Several statues in Richmond were removed in recent weeks following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in May — which sparked widespread protests and movements across the country. Countless old Confederate monuments have been torn down, too, including one in Richmond of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States during the Civil War.

Ashe’s statue in the city, however, had “White Lives Matter” painted on it last month. So, as a “contingency plan” during the height of the protests, Ashe’s family asked the city to take it down to protect it.

However Ashe’s nephew, David Harris Jr., confirmed Friday that the statue isn’t going to be taken down.

“We were just considering it at the height of the protesting so that if any credible threats came through Mayor [Levar] Stoney had the leeway to do it without having any pushback from us if he felt the need to take it down,” Harris said, via the Associated Press.

Only one Confederate statue remains in the city, one of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered its removal in June, per the Associated Press, however an ongoing lawsuit has blocked the order.

Ashe, a Richmond native, was the first Black man to ever win singles titles at the U.S. Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open, and the first to ever make it onto a United States Davis Cup team. He was later named a captain of the team in 1981, inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985 and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993. He died that year after complications with AIDS.

The stadium that holds the U.S. Open each year in New York was later named after Ashe, and the statue in Richmond was erected in 1996.

While a debate about statues and monuments is ongoing throughout the country, Harris thinks the solution is simple. All people need to do is look to his uncle.

“If we’re going to put up a statue of somebody, let’s put up a statue of somebody that stands for equality, that stands for education, all the things that my uncle held true,” Harris said, via the Associated Press.

The statue of tennis star Arthur Ashe stands on Monument Avenue, Friday, July 10, 2020, in Richmond, Va.
The statue of tennis star Arthur Ashe stands on Monument Avenue, Friday, July 10, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP/Steve Helber)

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