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A Place for Us

Of the extremely limited public spaces where black children could frolic in segregation-era Richmond, Brook Field Park was the chief choice. Among the youngsters who roved its grounds, swam in its pool in sweltering summers and played on its tennis courts and baseball fields, there...

Benefit play highlights legacy of Dr. Robert Walter Johnson

The saying goes, Sunday’s children are full of grace. This is somehow rather fitting when it comes to the character of Dr. Robert Walter “Whirlwind” Johnson, who came into the world on a Sunday. It is for this reason that Jennifer Petticolas titled her new play about...

Dr. Robert Johnson and Tennis Desegregation

Dr. Robert Johnson hosted a tennis camp at his home in Lynchburg, Virginia, starting in the 1940s where he coached young African Americans including Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe. Lange Johnson talked about his grandfather’s work to integrate tennis and his own experiences at the...

Restoring a Landmark for African-American Tennis Stars

LYNCHBURG, Va. — A historical signpost here at 1422 Pierce Street tells the story of Dr. Robert Walter Johnson, who fostered generations of African-American tennis stars on a court next to his home there. From 1951 to 1971, hundreds of players learned tennis and discipline under...

Dr. Robert Walter Johnson, the ‘godfather’ of Black tennis

As Wimbledon gets underway in London, tennis will be a dominate discussion for several weeks. The world may have its eyes on the tournament, but it reminds us in the states of Dr. Robert Walter Johnson, the putative godfather of Black tennis. The “godfather” appellation is...

Time to Save a Bit of Local History

In the space of just a few blocks just past Main Street that wrap around downtown Lynchburg can be found a treasure trove of the history of Central Virginia’s African-American community. Fifth Street, for decades, was the cultural and economic black “Main Street,” home of a...