Edwin Bancroft Henderson, Black Educator Hall Of Fame Member

Every day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with Phillys7thWard.org and the Education Post, will highlight a Black Educator Hall of Famer. But, don’t forget, e’ry month is Black History MonthFebruary is just the Blackest.

Today, our featured Black Educator Hall of Fame Member is Edwin Bancroft Henderson.

Edwin B. Henderson was born on November 24, 1883 in Washington D.C.  His father was a day laborer and his mother, a homemaker, taught him to read at a young age; with Henderson doing some of that reading at the nearby Library of Congress.

An honor roll student at M Street High School in Washington, D.C., Henderson was also a member of the school’s baseball, football, and track and field teams; earning a B.A. degree from Howard University, an M.A. degree at Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in athletic training from Central Chiropractic College in Kansas City, Missouri.

In 1904, Henderson began a long and distinguished teaching career in the Black public schools of Washington, D.C., while simultaneously continuing his study of physical education by attending the Harvard Summer School of Physical Education. For 25 years, Henderson served as the Director of the Department of Physical Education for the District of Columbia’s segregated Black schools; having coached, taught, and/or mentored students including Charles R. Drew and Duke Ellington.

It was at Harvard where Henderson was introduced to the game of basketball. He returned to Washington D.C. and introduced the game to his students. He also took the game to cities along the East Coast.

It was the first time African Americans had played basketball on a wide scale basis, earning Henderson distinction as the “Father of Black Basketball” and the District of Columbia as the “Birthplace of Black Basketball.” Henderson himself was a good player. His leaping ability made him a natural center, the most crucial position in basketball back when each made basket was followed by a jump ball.

Henderson was the first academic researcher of African Americans in sports, with articles appeared in a number of Black periodicals including CrisisThe Messenger, and the Negro History Bulletin.  In 1939 Henderson published The Negro in Sports under the auspices of Carter G. Woodson’s Associated Publishers, the publishing arm of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). 

The Negro in Sports was the first major study of Black athletes and athletics.

Henderson also established a branch of the NAACP in Falls Church, Virginia, a Washington, D.C. suburb, and led the fight to end the segregationist seating policy of Uline Arena, the Washington, D.C. sporting facility that housed the basketball games of the Washington Capitols of the Basketball Association of America. With his challenge to the Uline Arena’s segregation, Henderson helped open the doors into what is now a professional league where Black players are dominant.

Edwin Henderson; a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame.

For more information on Edwin Henderson, visit the following site.


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