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Film an honest, respectful look at tennis legend and his legacy

February 10th, 2022

Citizen Ashe poster

In honor of Black History Month, the next offering in the KIPCOR Film Series profiles a Black athlete and social activist, the late tennis star Arthur Ashe, Sunday, Feb. 20, at 2 p.m. 

Citizen Ashe is the third film in a four-film series that KIPCOR, the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at Bethel College, sponsors each school year.

Citizen Ashe will screen in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. An audience talkback with Bethel head football coach A.B. Stokes will follow the film.

The KIPCOR Film Series is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support KIPCOR and the series.

Current Bethel COVID protocols require face coverings regardless of vaccination status, and physical distancing to the extent possible.

Citizen Ashe is one of two major 2021 films, along with King Richard (a feature film about Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams), that looks at Black athletes in a sport considered “non-traditional” for Black competitors.

Ashe, who played in the 1960s and ’70s, was the first Black male tennis star. He is so far the only Black man to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the U.S. Open (where the stadium in Flushing, Queens, New York, is now named in his honor).

Ashe retired in 1980 due to heart issues, and became a coach, a sportscaster and an activist who campaigned against apartheid in South Africa and, after contracting HIV from a blood transfusion, in support of people with AIDS through the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS.

Ashe died in 1993 from complications of HIV.

Rex Miller (who also made a documentary about Althea Gibson, the first Black tennis player to win a singles title at Wimbledon) and Sam Pollard directed Citizen Ashe, which is feature-length at an hour and 34 minutes.

In her review in the New York Times, Manohla Dargis wrote that Ashe “straddled the color line in his own stubborn, sometimes revelatory fashion, by turns smiling politely, absorbing unbelievable abuse and speaking truth to power as he fiercely, at times delightfully, demolished one white smirk after another.”

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #15 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #31 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, both for 2021-22. Bethel was the only Kansas college or university selected for the American Association of College & Universities’ 2021 Institute on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation, and has been named a TRHT Campus Center. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.