By UDC Communications

On June 24 the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) will unveil a statue made in the image of Edwin (E.B.) Bancroft Henderson, Ph.D. The statue will be located at the Dr. Edwin Bancroft Henderson Sports Complex on the Van Ness Campus. 

The work of art will be presented to the public at 1 p.m. in honor of the educator, basketball pioneer, civil rights activist and author who is recognized as the “grandfather of Black basketball.”

Henderson graduated first in his class in 1904 from a predecessor institution of UDC with a degree in education. He later attended Harvard University’s Dudley Sargent School of Physical Training and became the first African-American man to earn certification to teach physical education in the nation.  

Amid powerful civil rights challenges, Henderson was instrumental in forming the first rural branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He served two terms as president of the Virginia chapter of the NAACP and was on the board of directors of the D.C. branch. His pioneering efforts as an organizer and activist laid the foundation for athletics in the Black community in the nation’s capital and around the United States. And as a public school teacher in Washington, D.C., his students included such notable figures as musician Duke Ellington and medical pioneer Dr. Charles R. Drew.

Henderson co-authored the annual Spalding “Official Handbook of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Middle Atlantic States” from 1910-1913. Additionally, he wrote “The Negro in Sports” in 1939, which was revised in 1949, and “The Black Athlete” in 1968. His estimated number of published articles is over 3,000. 

Henderson was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and the UDC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018. 

The Dr. E.B. Henderson Memorial Fund Campaign supported the development of the statue. The Campaign was established through the UDC Foundation, the university’s charitable partner, in honor of Henderson. Donations received through the campaign have supported the establishment of a scholarship endowment and summer sports camps for youth from D.C.’s wards 7 and 8. 

In February 2022, UDC renamed its sports complex to the Dr. Edwin Bancroft Henderson Sports Complex in his honor. 

Classically trained master sculptor Brian Hanlon was selected to create the E.B. Henderson statue. 

The only public university in the nation’s capital and the only exclusively urban land-grant university in the United States, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) is a historically Black university committed to a broad mission of education, research and community service. 

This article was originally published by UDC Communications.

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