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Althea Gibson at home in Harlem, 1957. Courtesy Estate of Genevieve Naylor.

National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), a Harlem-based media arts organization, has received special funding to help support Althea Gibson Week from August 25-30, 2015.

Althea Week revolves around preview screenings of  Althea – the award-winning documentary about trailblazing tennis star Althea Gibson.  Produced and directed by Rex Miller, Althea is slated for nationwide premiere on THIRTEEN’s American Masters on PBS on Friday, September 4, 2015, at 9 p.m. during the US Open.  In the meantime, thanks to NBPC, Harlemites and New Yorkers can catch several special screenings of Althea, and related events observing the pioneering athlete and celebrating her birthday (August 25, 1927), at venues throughout Harlem and in Queens.

Althea Gibson grew up, and was exposed to, organized sports on the tough streets of Harlem. In 1939, at age twelve, she became the New York City women’s paddle tennis champion. By 1941, she earned her first American Tennis Association (ATA) national championship and, by the 1950s, Gibson emerged as a most unlikely queen of the elite and highly segregated world of tennis.

Gibson became the first African American to play at (and win) Wimbledon and the US Nationals (precursor of the US Open), and later turned her talents to golf, breaking another color barrier in the Ladies Professional Golf Association, where she competed for over 10 years. Her life transcended sports, and her fame thrust her to the forefront of the early Civil Rights movement.  Althea, the film, captures the highs and lows of Gibson’s life, and shares an incredible journey that has rarely been told.

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The film won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 19th American Black Film Festival, and was executive produced by women’s sports legend Billie Jean King, Hollywood actor John Amos and activist investor William A. Ackman (CEO, Pershing Square Capital Management).

Harlem screening events include:

- Tuesday, August 25, 1 pm:  Screening at the Harlem Armory, where Gibson trained and competed. The event is hosted by Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program and will be followed by a Q&A with Rex Miller. Harlem Armory, 40 West 143rd Street.

- Tuesday, August 25, 6 pm: Special preview excerpts from the film at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture with remarks by Director, Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad and American Masters Executive Producer Michael Kantor, followed by a talk-back with David Dinkins, Art Carrington (former National Tennis Association Champion, tennis historian, and longtime friend of Althea Gibson), Leslie Allen (former ATA, NCAA and WTA champion), and Director/Producer, Rex Miller. The Schomburg Center,  515 Malcolm X Blvd.

-  Thursday, August 27, at 7 pm: Screening and Q&A with Rex Miller. ImageNation Cinema Foundation Raw Space, 2031 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.

-  Saturday, August 29, at 10 am: The David Dinkins Tennis Club presents a re-dedication of the Althea Gibson and Sydney Llewellyn courts at the Jungle public courts, in honor of those who have contributed to the Jungle’s legacy. The ceremony will be followed by a party for kids and their parents, in conjunction with the club’s weekly “Free 10 and Under Family Tennis/Reading Program.” Jungle Public Courts, Seventh Avenue and 151st Street.

Althea GibsonAlthea Gibson Week also includes events in Forest Hills Queens and Long Island  August 26-29th. NBPC will also support additional outreach and engagement around the U.S. through the end of 2015 to include community screenings, tennis clinics and school curriculum implementation in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Charleston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Newark and other cities.

For RSVP and registration information on the above events, visit: http://altheathefilm.com/phone/althea-week.html

NBPC is the nation’s only nonprofit organization dedicated solely to media content about the black experience. To learn more about NBPC, visit www.blackpublicmedia.org or follow the organization on Twitter (@BLKPublicMedia) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BlackPublicMedia).

For more information on Althea, visit http://www.altheathefilm.com/.