Interview of Freddie Goss
Interviewed because of connection to tennis player Arthur Ashe. They met during their first year at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) while living in Sproul Hall in 1961. They both participated in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and pledged the historically-Black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi.
- Purpose Served: An Oral History of the Exemplary Life of Arthur Ashe, 1943-1993
- African American HistorySports
- Biographical Note:
- Interviewed because of connection to tennis player Arthur Ashe. They met during their first year at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) while living in Sproul Hall in 1961. They both participated in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and pledged the historically-Black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi.
- Goss, Freddie
- Persons Present:
- Goss and Nwonye
- Place Conducted:
- The interview was conducted using the Zoom video conferencing platform
- Supporting Documents:
- Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
- Interviewer Background and Preparation:
- The interview was conducted by Chinyere Nwonye, an interviewer for the Arthur Ashe Oral History project as part of the UCLA Arthur Ashe Legacy Center. Chinyere is a graduate of UCLA with a background in neuroscience and African American Studies. The interviewer prepared for the interview by reading Arthur Ashe’s Advantage Ashe; Arthur Ashe and Neil Amdur’s Off the Court; Arthur Ashe and Arnold Rampersad’s Days of Grace: A Memoir; Raymond Arsenault’s Arthur Ashe: A Life; various archival articles from the Los Angeles Times and Daily Bruin. To gain background on the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, the researcher also read “History of Army ROTC” from the University of California, Berkeley Army ROTC website; The Reserve Officer Training Corps (1951) by Alexander Hamilton; Integration in the Armed Services (1956) by James C. Evans and David A. Lane; Letters: A Constructive Alternative to ROTC (1969) published by the American Association of University Professors.
- Processing of Interview:
- The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. The interviewee was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the content.
- 3 hrs
- Series Statement:
- Purpose Served: An Oral History of the Exemplary Life of Arthur Ashe, 1943-1993 is an initiative of the Arthur Ashe Legacy Fund (AALF) at UCLA and is funded by AALF and by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. By launching an oral history project to document and capture the firsthand recollections of Ashe’s colleagues, associates, family, and friends, UCLA was fulfilling its commitment to the Arthur Ashe Learning Center to document and disseminate the considerable impact of one of its most significant graduates. In his memoir Days of Grace Arthur Ashe stated, "I don't want to be remembered for my tennis accomplishments.” Although this series provides a comprehensive account of Ashe’s considerable accomplishments as a tennis player, it also offers a substantial number of first-person accounts of historical moments and stories beyond the scope of tennis. Ashe’s ascent in the tennis world coincided with many important developments in the sport: the onset of the Open Era, the shift from a mostly “country club” sport to the public arena, the commercialization of tennis, and the rise of the celebrity athlete. But his life also intersected with a number of significant milestone in the second half of the twentieth century, including the civil rights and women’s movements, the Vietnam War, the fall of apartheid in South Africa, and the AIDS/HIV crisis. In their reflections on Ashe’s work and activism, participants in this series share stories of his engagement with these crucial moments in U.S. history. Finally, the series also contains information about segregation; student life at UCLA in the 1960s; ROTC; West Point; Black life in Richmond, Virginia and St. Louis, Missouri; the work of TransAfrica and Artists and Athletes against Apartheid; and the relatively unknown histories of the American Tennis Association and Dr. Robert Walter Johnson’s Summer Tennis Camp. Interviewees were sought across the country and internationally, reflecting Ashe’s broad swath of associates and his status as a prominent athlete and a respected public intellectual. Although the series reflects his entire life, special attention was given to locating childhood friends, military associates, and fellow students in St. Louis and at UCLA. Participants who could speak of his devotion to support youth in the sport and his activism were also included in this series. The series commenced months before the COVID-19 pandemic, so many of the initial interviews align with traditional oral history methodology in being conducted in person. After stay-at-home orders were initiated across the country in March of 2020, interviews were conducted via the Zoom video conferencing platform. Many of these sessions were preserved on video recordings as well as audio recordings.
Freddie Goss was born in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1943 – Family moved to California in 1945 after father began working in shipyard ¬– Family purchases home in Compton, coinciding with white flight ¬– Recounts memory of Jackson family being harrassed after purchasing home near Central Avenue – Extracurricular amenities at Compton High School – Gradual transformation of Compton reaffirmed Goss’ decision to go to the University of Califorinia, Los Angeles (UCLA) ¬– Goss meets Arthur Ashe on basketball courts outside Sproul Hall – Goss, Ashe, Tebbie Fowler, and George McQuarn share nightly dinners together – Goss and Ashe opt to remain in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) after receiving a letter from a friend at West Point, Carl Peterson – Goss and Ashe are commissioned after graduating in 1966, and Goss is sent to Vietnam – Recounts playing for Coach John Wooden for four years – Wooden recommends Goss to become the head basketball coach at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), making him one of the first Black head coaches in college basketball.
Black community at UCLA and the initial lack of formal organizations – Significance of The Coop as an informal space for Black community – Goss and Ashe pledge the historically Black fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi during their senior year, encouraged by Walt Hazzard – Goss and Ashe reconnect in the mid-1980s through a fraternity event – Learning about Ashe’s diagnosis with HIV/AIDS.