Naomi Osaka‘s most recent Australian Open win that made her do it one of only seven playersWinning four Grand Slam titles, male or female, consolidates her role as the clear heir to the throne of Serena Williams. And both champions, by consistently voicing their voices in the fight against gender discrimination and systemic racism, perhaps unwittingly put the legacy of the first black woman to ever win a national tennis title, Lucy Diggs Slowly.
Slovene lived a life that deserves much greater credit than what our society considered appropriate. Her accomplishments include being an influential educator, activist, and founding member of the United States’ first black Greek student association. After black players were banned from professional tennis for decades, a group of black business people, professors and doctors did Foundation of the American Tennis Association (ATA). Next year, Slowe won the ATA‘s first female title, which makes her the first black woman to a national title in every sport.
Despite her athletic gifts, Slowe focused on higher education and eventually became the University of Howard University Dean of Women – the first black woman to hold this position in an American college. She fought for educational reform and used her influence to promote racial justice prominent role for black women in the women’s election movementand peace activism. they also helped organize the National Council of Negro Women and helped found the National Association of College Women as its first president.
Perhaps the most lasting feature of their legacy is their role in bringing about the nation’s first Greek-written sorority for black women. Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA). As an undergraduate student, Slowe was a founding member of the organization and served as the first president. Under Slowe’s leadership, the sisterhood made it clear that it was committed to improving the material conditions of its parishioners, especially black women.
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The AKAs campaigned for women’s suffrage, worked to eradicate lynching, and helped at Freedman’s Hospital. Later, during the Great Depression, the Sisterhood helped improve education in rural areas, and the group funded vocational training and youth programs during the civil rights movement. Community service programs are still a cornerstone of the organization today.
Slowe has compiled this impressive catalog of benefits while delving into sexism and racism of the Jim Crow era. She became tennis champion when the color line was strictly enforced, worked as a teacher in separate school systems and fought against The first black president of Howard University to refuse to pay her fair pay because she was a woman.
These prejudices are still very much present for today’s black tennis champions. While Serena Williams doesn’t live in a world where black players are excluded from mainstream competition, she was Racist and sexist attacks are not unknown from tennis spectators and the media. That hasn’t stopped them from using their platform and voice to support social justice movements. Even if a tennis legend Billie Jean King suggested stepping back from her activism in order to focus on the final years of her career. Williams replied unequivocally, “The day I stop fighting for equality and for people who look like you and me will be the day I’m in my grave.”
In 2016, Williams’ first The tweet after the Wimbledon final was not about tennis; It was an expression of outrage over the death of Philando Castille, a black man who was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop. When asked for her comments by reporters, she took advantage of her Wimbledon news spotlight to target systemic racism and police brutality.