The University of District of Columbia has honored the “Grandfather of Black Basketball” with a statue, reports WTOP News. 

On Saturday, June 24, 2023, a ceremony was held to unveil the statue of Edwin Bancroft “E.B.” Henderson—a former student at the university—which was placed just outside the newly renamed Dr. E.B. Henderson Sports Complex at the school’s Van Ness campus. In February 2022, the campus was renamed to honor Henderson.

The statue was commissioned by Brian Hanlon, founder of Hanlon Sculpture Studio in New Jersey, who has garnered critical acclaim for depicting African American figures such as Harriett Tubman and Georgetown Basketball Coach John R. Thompson, Jr.

E.B. Henderson II spoke at the event and paid tribute to his grandfather's legacy, noting he brought the game of basketball from Harvard University to his community when he “recognized that it was uniquely adapted to people of the African American race.”

“He didn’t learn it just for himself. He learned it to spread to the generation after him and the generation after that,” Henderson said. “And he wanted to lay a foundation for spreading the game of basketball to African American youth.”

Ronald Mason Jr., president of UDC, was also in attendance at the unveiling and spoke to Henderson’s significant accomplishments in the sport.

“In a normal world, this man could have been anything. He could have been President of the United States. He could have been a Fortune 500 CEO, but he got kicked out of the YMCA for being Black, but like most Black leaders, that didn’t stop him,” Mason said. “He went on to do great things to help his people but also to plant the seeds for what became the modern National Basketball Association, but there’s more to the story.”

“Like most black leaders, he wasn’t just fighting to help his people. He was actually fighting to help make the idea that we call America this unrealized vision, where all had inalienable rights and are created equal—he was fighting to make that idea a reality,” he added.

Born in Washington, D.C.on November 24, 1883, Henderson graduated from Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. and the Miner Normal School which is now UDC in 1904. He became one of the first Black physical education teachers in the country.

In what is considered his greatest accomplishment, Henderson is credited with introducing basketball to Black Americans in Washington, D.C., in 1904, less than 20 years after the game was invented. Thus earning him the nickname, Grandfather of Black Basketball. He first saw the game while taking summer courses at Harvard University. Throughout his career, he was responsible for spreading the sport to Black Americans from Washington D.C. to Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. 

He was the author of the landmark book Negro In Sports and co-authored an annual handbook Official Handbook of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Middle Atlantic States, which chronicled the history of the organization of African American sports along the Eastern seaboard.

After passing away at the age of 93 in 1977, Henderson was honored with numerous accolades posthumously. He was inducted posthumously by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. Dr. Henderson was inducted into UDC’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.