Bronze and mosaic relief designed by Thomas Jay Warren.

Breaking the Barriers: An Exhibition in Courage

April-June 2011

Breaking the Barriers


USTA Colorado, in partnership with the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library presents the Colorado premiere of Breaking the Barriers. Traditionally featured at the U.S. Open, the Breaking the Barriers exhibit chronicles the origins and history of African American tennis and features early black tennis champions. The exhibit will enrich the Library’s collection with historical memorabilia, stories and photos documenting the historical experiences and contributions of local past and present pioneers of tennis in Colorado. See photos from the exhibit.

This exhibit is free and open to the public and will be presented on Level Two.

Oral History Lecture Series

The Pioneers: A Historical Perspective
Monday, May 9, 6-8 p.m.
Blair Caldwell African American Research Library
Colorado has a rich history of pro tour professionals located in our own backyard with direct connections to Arthur Ashe, the first African American male to win a Grand Slam event. Featured panel participants will share experiences and inspirations from their association with Arthur Ashe. In addition, learn about unknown facts, obstacles and struggles faced by early African American tennis pioneers.

Moderator: Nancy McCloskey Concierge, Greenwood Athletic and Tennis Club
Panel Participants:

  • Cliff Buchholz, former pro tour tennis professional and junior tennis player with Arthur Ashe
  • Richard Hillway, world renowned tennis historian
  • Pius Mozia, former pro tour tennis professional, father of junior tennis standout and high school 4A state champion Clinton Vessels III, 1st African American junior tennis player in Colorado to achieve high state and regional rankings and Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation board member
  • Bill Wright, former pro tour tennis professional and colligate coach who toured with Arthur Ashe

Crossing the Net: Denver City Park & the Black Tennis Experience - Documentary Screening & Talkback with Cast
Monday, May 16, 6-8 p.m.
Blair Caldwell African American Research Library
The film showcases the words, deeds and aspirations of a few local heroes. These pioneers that have made Denver City Park a true 'home' for the game of tennis and a real 'community' of avid players. This film celebrates that throughout the years, nothing more than an authentic love for the game has effectively helped to change both Denver society and the sport forever.

Panel Participants:

  • Ira Brown, 1st African American coach to take a high school team to State Championships
  • Clovis Brown, wife of Ira Brown and retired coach for West High School tennis team. Currently, Clovis and Ira are formidable partners on the court, winning the 2010 Colorado State Open mixed doubles championship (70+ division).
  • Melvin McCurley, 1st African American Colorado State Open Champion Men’s Division.

Tennis, for the Health of It
Monday, June 6, 6-8 p.m.
Blair Caldwell African American Research Library
Tennis – for the health of it! is an initiative that was developed by the U.S. Professional Tennis Association conceived to help make the public aware of the tremendous health, fitness and psychological benefits of tennis and encourage people to get out and play the sport as a part of their regular fitness regimen. Tennis is a social and fun sport that can be a welcome change to gym workouts or as an additional activity in a fitness routine. Area fitness and health professionals will provide insight on the importance and benefits of health and wellness for individuals, families and the community.

Moderator: Kim Farmer – Owner of Mile High Fitness
Panel Participants:

  • Dr. Terri Richardson, Vice Chair, Colorado Black Health Collaborative, Internist at Kaiser Permanente, and Lead Physician for the virtual African American Center of Excellence.
  • Stacy Fowler, former President of the Colorado Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness, Vice President of the National Association of Health and Fitness, and member of the Colorado Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, and owner/president of Fitness Scouts.

Where are Blacks in Tennis Today?
Monday, June 13, 6-8 p.m.
Blair Caldwell African American Research Library
Black tennis athletes are beneficiaries of the pioneers who persevered and triumphed through segregation and exclusion. In the modern era, successful Black tennis players have endured through hard work, determination, belief in self, and the equal opportunity to compete. Former Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour pros will share their personal experiences and comment on some of the shining prospects making Black tennis history today!

Moderator: Keith Bell – Community Relations & Diversity Director, USTA Intermountain
Panel Participants:

  • Katrina Adams, former tennis professional, broadcast analyst and commentator for Tennis Channel television, USTA Board of Directors Director at Large-2005, executive director of the Harlem Junior Tennis League.
  • Lori McNeil, former tennis professional, semifinalist at Wimbledon 1994, and assistant coach for U.S. Olympics team 2004, USTA High Performance Coach 2001 to present.
  • Chandra Rubin, former tennis professional, USTA Female Athletic of the Year-1995, USTA Board of Directors-2011.

Additional Events

Breaking the Barriers at Five Points Jazz Festival
Saturday, May 21, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. – Guided Tours
Blair Caldwell African American Research Library

Juneteenth “Kids Zone”
Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. – Youth 10 & under Tennis Clinics
Blair Caldwell African American Research Library - Sonny Lawson Park

Diversity TennisFest - USTA Colorado and Parks and Recreation
Saturday, June 25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. – Youth and Adult Tennis Activities
City Park Tennis Courts
303-695-4116 x220

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Bronze and mosaic relief designed by Thomas Jay Warren.
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