| By Danny Burgess

Only in America …

Only in the United States of America could a poor African-American man born in New Orleans in 1901 rise to blow rhythmic sounds called jazz, entertaining stars, royalty, presidents and a Pope. Louis Armstrong’s unique style of playing earned him the nickname “Satchmo.” In the late 1970s, Satchmo moved to a small neighborhood in Queens where he eventually died, but not before leaving us a legacy of musical genius such as “What a Wonderful World” and “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” To honor his memory, America built him a stadium, right in his backyard, at the world’s richest tennis venue. In 1978, the Louis Armstrong Stadium became the main stadium at the U.S. Open, seating more than 18,000 people.
 
Only in America …
Would a tennis ambassador be born in 1943. He would go on to win the inaugural U.S. Open in which professionals were welcomed in 1968. Arthur Ashe would then add an Australian Open title in 1970 and a Wimbledon crown in 1975. Arthur Ashe would not only champion tennis, but also take on apartheid, world hunger and civil rights issues. He would refuse to play before segregated audiences, insisting that if he could play for one group, he could play for all of mankind. Spearheading a campaign to free Nelson Mandela resonated across every tennis court on which he played, with every ace loosening the cell that held Mandela captive. But only in America would we honor such a man whose life was shortened by AIDS acquired through a blood transfusion while undergoing open heart surgery. In 1997, we built a stadium in his honor within a 32-court facility that seats 22,000, has 90 luxury boxes, two restaurants and has served as a showcase for Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Chris Everett, Martina Navratilova, Venus and Serena Williams, and Roger Federer, to list just a few.
As we observe Black History Month in February, please join me in applauding America as the people of this great nation elected a man born of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas as our 44th President. Barack Obama was educated at Harvard University, became a U.S. senator from Illinois and was elected the first African-American President of this great country.

Only in America …

Danny Burgess

<p>Daniel Burgess may be reached by e-mail at <a href="mailto:amertwist@aim.com">amertwist@aim.com</a>.</p>