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Black History Month

On this day in black history: Bob Marley is born and the world loses tennis great Arthur Ashe

Black History Month: The Undefeated Edition Feb. 6

1945 — Happy birthday Bob Marley (1945-1981)

Reggae star Robert Nesta Marley was born in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, to Cedella Malcolm and Norval Marley, a white father who left shortly after his birth. Often ridiculed during his youth because of his biracial heritage, Marley sought refuge in music. Shortly after moving to the small, poverty-stricken neighborhood of Trench Town in Kingston, Jamaica, as a teenager, Marley met Neville “Bunny Wailer” Livingston and Winston “Peter Tosh” McIntosh — two friends who would later help form Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Between his time with The Wailers and his solo career, Marley toured locally and overseas until an aggressive form of melanoma prevented him from performing. Marley died of cancer at 36. The reggae artist’s music continues to shine long after his death. Over the past two decades, Marley has sold more than 75 million albums.

1993 — Arthur Ashe dies (1977-1993)

The world mourned the loss of tennis player, civil rights activist and humanitarian Arthur Ashe, who died of AIDS-related pneumonia in a New York hospital at 49. The year before his death, Ashe held a news conference announcing that he had AIDS after being pressed by a USA Today reporter. Even after Magic Johnson’s HIV-positive announcement in 1991, Ashe was addressing the disease, which he contracted from a blood transfusion, when it was still very much taboo for a man — especially a straight man — to discuss.

In 1975, Ashe became the first — and remains the only — male African-American player to win Wimbledon. He finished his career with 33 singles titles and 14 doubles titles before retiring in 1980 due to heart problems. Off the court, Ashe advocated for equality, spoke out against South African apartheid and was arrested during a protest against U.S. policy toward Haitian refugees. After being diagnosed with the disease, Ashe pushed for more funds to be allocated to research on AIDS and created the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS shortly before his death.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.