Breaking the Barriers
African-Americans in Tennis
Chapter One: An Exhibition in Courage/2011
The 2011 USTA Colorado Breaking the Barriers: An Exhibition in Courage exhibit, which incorporated the International Tennis Hall of Fame's exhibit of the same name, completed a three-month run at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Denver, and left a major impact on the state of Colorado. Nearly 10,000 people toured the exhibit, which featured an historical timeline of African-Americans in tennis, dating from the 1800s to Arthur Ashe’s historical Wimbledon win in 1975.
The exhibit was enhanced through several ancillary programs, including school outreach with guided tours, an oral history lecture series, a portrait series of local tennis pioneers, and USTA Colorado's original documentary short, Crossing the Net: Denver City Park & The Black Tennis Experience.
For many, it was an opportunity to connect with the great tennis champions of the past, and to learn about the history of black players in Colorado.
Paula McClain, USTA Colorado Marketing & Diversity Director, and the person responsible for leading the project, reflected on the success of the display and documentary... "It is highly gratifying to achieve such a monumental endeavor that will have a lasting legacy on the Denver community and beyond.”
The Portrait Series
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Barry Gutierrez has been the visionary behind the lens for all three Breaking the Barriers projects. The first, entitled An Exhibition in Courage, debuted in 2011 and focused on Colorado's African-American tennis community.