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Ora Washington (1898-1971) was one of the first African American women to excel in two sports. Ora Washington was born on January 23, 1898, in Caroline County, Virginia. She was born to James Thomas Washington and Laura Young Washington and was one of 9 children. Ora competed in the UTSA and ATA and went on to win eight national titles for tennis in singles tournaments. She played basketball for the Philadelphia Tribunes and was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Germantown YWCA has no use as it sits and collects dust in the Germantown Section of Philadelphia

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Historical marker for Ora Washington currently located in front of the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, PA.

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In the year of 1912, Ora Washington's family moved north and found residence in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, PA. Ora Washington did not start competing in organized sports until she was 25 years old. She began playing tennis for the Germantown YWCA to cope with the loss of her sister. A year later she went on to win her first national title. Ora Washington would go on to hold the ATA national title from 1929-1936. Along with her singles national titles she won 12 doubles titles with her partner George Stewart.

Her journey began at the YWCA an acronym that stands for Young Women's Christian Association. Prior to the Civil Right's movement facilities were separated based upon skin color so this building that was located on Germantown Ave. was known as the colored facility. Their main mission during this time was to eliminate racial disparities that existed in the country during that time. This is where Ora Washington trained early in her career and taught at later down the road during her lifetime.

The YWCA was created to help aid "child-saving" reform that would focus on problems such as child labor, education, and health according to the book "A Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America". This association allowed for children that were apart of poor working class families to have a place to go to participate in sports and other activities. That being said their central focus was religion and social gospel.

Those who were African American and apart of the Germantown community were not able to to use the YWCA that was until 1918. This occurred after the efforts of NCAAP field secretary James Weldon and other African American middle class leaders advocated for a facility for young African American girls within their community. Within the first week the membership totals reached 803 women and the facility had a gymnasium, classrooms, pool, and tennis courts.Jennifer Lansbury stated "By the early 1920's the Black Germantown YWCA was a center of activity and pride for the African American community in Philadelphia". This is where Ora Washington's amazing career would begin. Now the YWCA on Germantown Ave. no longer exists and it is currently home to the Settlement Muisc School.

Washington, A. (2021, January 14). Ora Washington (1898-1971) •. •. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from (n.d.). Retrieved October 24, 2021, from

Lewis, F. (2020, December 16). 5 outstanding Black Women Tennis Champions. ThoughtCo. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from

Lansbury, Jennifer. A Spectacular Leap: Black Women Athletes in Twentieth-Century America.

“Historic Germantown YWCA, Left to Languish, on Track for 'New Era'.” PhillyVoice, November 12, 2016. 

Image Sources(Click to expand)

“Historic Germantown YWCA, Left to Languish, on Track for 'New Era'.” PhillyVoice, November 12, 2016.

“Ora Washington Historical Marker.” Historical Marker, June 16, 2016.