Each February marks Black History Month in the United States. It is a time to celebrate the significant contributions and achievements made by African Americans throughout history, as well as to recognize the struggles that they have overcome and even continue to face today.
Here at OOFOS, our core mission is to “make yOO feel better”, and we love acknowledging others who are doing their part to make people feel better themselves.
To read Part 1 of our series, click here.
On this last day of February, we want to share with you the story of another inspirational African American who worked hard to make people feel better and truly embodied what we refer to as our “OOSoul”-- Arthur Ashe.
Ashe was an American professional tennis player, famously known for winning 3 Grand Slam titles. He is the only black man ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open, and the first to be ranked Number 1 in the world.
Arguably more importantly, Ashe is also known for his work in educating others about HIV and AIDS after being diagnosed himself after a blood transfusion in the 1980s, during the midst of the AIDS crisis when information about the disease was still widely unknown.
After Ashe went public with his illness, he founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, working to raise awareness about the virus and attempting to clear up common misconceptions about the origins of HIV and AIDS. On World AIDS Day 1992, Ashe delivered a speech at the United Nations and laid the groundwork for a $5 million fundraising campaign for the institution.
Carrying on his activism, just two months prior to his death, Ashe founded the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, an organization set up to address issues of inadequate health care delivery and was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. In June of 1993, Ashe was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President Bill Clinton.
ESPN also created the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in 1993, in honor of Ashe’s humanitarian work surrounding HIV and AIDS education. The award is given to athletes and non-athletes alike who transcend sport and seek to do exactly what we here at OOFOS strive to do every day — make people feel better and help to improve the world around us one step at a time.⠀
Ashe’s legacy and work to spread awareness about AIDS is remembered still today. His work made a difference in the way HIV and AIDS are perceived, and he truly did his part to “make yOO feel better.”
Do you have any inspirational African Americans in mind who you think have made a difference in making people feel better? Leave a comment and let us know about them!