Edwin B. Henderson set the tone and created the infrastructure for African American participation in athletics by creating leagues and associations for black athletes and referees when no such thing previously existed.”
— Edwin B. Henderson II, 2008 (Grandson of the late EB Henderson)
A native Washingtonian and honors graduate of M Street School and Miner Normal School No. 2, Dr. Henderson furthered his education at Harvard’s Dudley Sargent School of Physical Training. While at Harvard, he learned basketball at the YMCA in Springfield, MA, the birthplace of basketball. Upon returning to segregated Washington DC, Dr. Henderson had trouble finding courts or clubs for black ball players. Dr. Henderson organized black basketball teams, leagues, and referees, and raised funds for the Colored YMCA in Washington DC. He is known as the “Grandfather of Black Basketball.” He used basketball as a catalyst for physical education training, leadership development and sportsmanship. Dr. Henderson trained such players as Charles Drew and Duke Ellington. He instilled in his players integrity and the importance of scholarship.
Dr. Henderson’s passion also included social/civic justice advocacy. After moving to Falls Church, VA, he helped form the Colored Citizens Protection League to fight an ordinance issued by the Town Council restricting where blacks could live. In 1915, the League filed a lawsuit that successfully prevented the legislation, forcing the Town Council to rescind the restriction after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional. In 1918, Dr. Henderson also helped form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Falls Church, VA, the nation’s first rural branch of the NAACP. His advocacy knew no bounds, yet very few in the communities he served remember his vast contributions.
A true pioneer of physical health education and basketball, a civil rights advocate, and an author of books and a large collection of articles, Dr. Henderson was indeed a great statesman. We are excited to recognize his substantial contributions! We need to raise $20,000 to reach our $300,000 goal to honor the UDC Alum and “Grandfather of Black Basketball,” Dr. E.B. Henderson. Donate today! Your contribution will further Dr. Henderson’s vision of an inclusive and equitable community by future services that will support UDC’s students and our future community programs. Join us today!
For more information on this extraordinary trailblazer:
View the short film, The EB Henderson Story.
Replay the University’s EB Henderson Black History Month Celebration
Dr. E.B. Henderson statue unveiling