Raymond Arsenault

Raymond Arsenault is the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg where he has taught since 1980. He is one of the nation’s leading civil rights historians. In addition, he is a specialist in the political, social, and environmental history of the American South. Before joining the faculty at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Arsenault taught at the University of Minnesota, Brandeis University, and the Universite d’Angers, in France, as a Fulbright Lecturer.

Arsenault has written the first comprehensive, authoritative biography of American icon Arthur Ashe, a pioneering athlete who, after breaking the tennis color barrier, went on to become an influential civil rights activist and public intellectual.

Arsenault chronicles Ashe’s rise to stardom on the court. But much of the book explores his off-court career as a human rights activist, philanthropist, broadcaster, writer, businessman, and celebrity. In 1988 he was diagnosed with AIDS, a condition he revealed only four years later. After devoting the last ten months of his life to AIDS activism, he died in February 1993 at the age of forty-nine, leaving an inspiring legacy of dignity, integrity, and active citizenship.

Based on prodigious research, including more than one hundred interviews, Raymond Arsenault’s insightful and compelling biography puts Ashe in the context of both his time and the long struggle of African-American athletes seeking equal opportunity and respect.