Hudlin Legacy Project

Hudlin Legacy Project

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Hudlin Legacy Project started this petition to Barnes Jewish Hospital

Dear Barnes Jewish Hospital Administration,

We, the undersigned members of the St. Louis community, urge you to restore and maintain Hudlin Park and the tennis courts thererin in commemoration for its namesake, Richard Hudlin. Hudlin is known for his mentorship and coaching of Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson, two athletes that were instrumental in breaking racial barriers in the sport of tennis. Hudlin’s legacy as a local civil rights hero and tennis icon is indisputable -- in 1945, Hudlin pioneered a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis to ensure African-Americans would be allowed usage of tennis courts in the city, and won. Hudlin was also the first black captain of the University of Chicago tennis team in 1928. It is a shame that the condition of Hudlin Park does not reflect the impact that Hudlin has left on the lives of millions who have been inspired by his mentees.

Currently, the Hudlin Park tennis courts are used by local nonprofit ACE Academy, to teach the lessons of life through the sport of tennis to youth in the community. Operating on these courts in their current state is a safety hazard to the students, volunteers, and coaches. From the cracks and bulges that make it dangerous to run, the broken nets, and the dated surface of the courts, it is evident that the environment is not conducive to promoting a passion for the sport of tennis into the youth and growing the game. By repairing these courts we would enable organizations like ACE Academy to continue teaching tennis and the subsequent life lessons that the sport instills to youth in the community, paying homage to the work that Richard Hudlin did as part of the progress to end racial inequality in St. Louis.

Section Eight of the Lease Agreement states that each year following Fiscal Year 2008, Barnes Jewish Hospital must put $1,200,000 towards park capital improvement projects and recreation purposes throughout the city as part of the Neighborhood Park Fund. Moreover, $300,000 per year are required for recreational programs administered by the Director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry for children throughout the city, and an additional $100,000 must be utilized for programs specifically providing access to opportunities for youth in the city. This money deserves to be put towards revitalizing the Hudlin Park tennis center which is unplayable.

Tennis is frequently criticized as classist and non-inclusive to racial minorities. This is an amazing opportunity for the City of St. Louis and Barnes Jewish Hospital to give youth in the community the opportunity and access to the game. By investing in public infrastructure, we can work to address systemic issues that affect marginalized communities. Now is the time to show support to the St. Louis community by continuing efforts to close socio-economic and racial barriers in access to tennis.

The underserved population in the City of St. Louis deserves better. We can restore this park to reflect the legacies of Hudlin, Ashe, and Gibson, and utilize the park in celebration of their trailblazing efforts.

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